Ask a Rabbi/Ask a Mufti: Rethinking Religious Authority in Judaism and Islam

23rd January, 2018 @ 10:30 - 14:00

Woolf Institute, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0UB



Workshop description

This workshop is an innovative attempt to create a conversation between anthropological (Agrama, 2010; Caplan & Stadler, 2009; Clarke, 2009; Ivry, 2010) and socio-legal perspectives (Baudouin Dupret, 2012 and Rosemary Hunter, 2010, John Bowen, 2010, Marie-Claire Foblets, 2012) regarding religious authority in everyday Judaism and Islam. By bringing together a broad range of scholars we will begin an inter-disciplinary dialogue about religious authority. During this workshop we will identify common core principles (Scott, 2015) and encourage cross-cultural perspectives as we address the similar and different historical, social, cultural and political factors that have created two different models of religious authority (Agrama, 2010; Clarke, 2012, Amira Sonbol, 2015).

Research questions

By comparing these two dynamic models of religious authority, we will address some of the following questions:

  1. How has religious authority been constructed in Jewish and Muslim texts throughout history (Brown, 2014; Freud-Kandel; 2014; Irshai,2014; Sonbol,2015)? What models have emerged in particular regions and how have these, in turn, been influenced by local, national and international trends? How have cultural and historical differences regarding women affected the ways different Jewish and Muslim communities reshaped and framed egalitarian narratives of religious authority (Sonbol, 2015; Wadud, 1999, Muhammad Ibn Sa’d, 1967 and Muhammad Ibn Sa’d, 1995)
  2. How has the rise in secularism, neo-liberalism and feminism (Irshai, 2014, Mir-Hosseini 2015) affected these age-old models of religious authority?
  3. In contemporary faith communities, how are religious authorities performing and negotiating their authority as the internet and the fluid geographical boundaries challenge communal models of religious authority (Campbell, 2012; Fader & Gottlieb, 2015; Golan & Stadler, 2016)?  In an era of rising levels of access to religious canonical texts, what role does canon and authority play within the Jewish and Muslim communities (Caplan & Stadler, 2009)?
  4. As the phenomena of female scholars rise in both Jewish and Muslim communities (Avishai, 2008; El-Or, 1994; Mahmood, 2005, Alwani, 2015, Mir-Hosseini 2015), how are models of female knowledge and religious authority reconfigured? Do men and women engage in religious consultation equally (Mir-Hosseini, 2015) or may it be that this encounter plays out differently for men and women?  And, how is language used by Jewish and Muslim women to negotiate their space within religious authority (Gadamer, 1996 and Wittgenstein, 1967)?
  5. How do contemporary models of religious authority compare to medical and legal systems of authoritative knowledge and practice (Qaradawi, 2015; Ivry, 2010)?

Further information

Refreshments and lunch will be provided.


Lea Taragin-Zeller:

How to book

This is an open event but booking is essential: reserve your free tickets here.

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