Conferences & Symposia

Confronting Islam: Shari'ah, the Constitution and American Muslims


Friday, November 5th, 2010

Confronting Islam:
Shari'ah, the Constitution and American Muslims

University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class
Fall Symposium

University of Maryland School of Law
500 W. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21201

Friday, November 5th, 2010
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

RSVP Online

For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith. With over one billion followers from across the globe the second largest religion in the world Islam is still feared and misunderstood.

Bans on minarets, headscarves, and the increasing fear of Islamic law have swept across Europe. Recently protests have risen across the United States against the building of mosques and Islamic community centers in local neighborhoods. Suddenly, Muslim communities are being told "not in my backyard," and hate crimes, backlash, and vandalism of mosques have resurfaced across the country. The misconceptions brewing since 9/11 are coming to the forefront in American law and politics.

The Arabic word "Islam" simply means "submission" to the will of God and derives from a word meaning "peace." Muslims regard their religion as the completed version of the monotheistic faiths revealed to a line of prophets, most notably, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Islam may seem exotic in the modern world where, particularly in the West, religion no longer dominates everyday life. But Islam, Christianity, and Judaism come from like origins. How can we as Americans learn to co-exist with our neighbors in peace and tolerance despite differences in faith?

This symposium aims to confront the mystery of Islam, Islamic law, and the legal struggles of Muslims in America. What does Shari'ah mean? How do Muslims live when they are minorities in a country that does not follow Islamic law? Does Shari'ah conflict with secular court systems? What is the perception of Muslims in America, and what are their legal struggles? Through three engaging panel discussions and a catered lunch keynote address, the Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender, and Class aims to create a forum for much needed scholarly dialogue at this crucial juncture in American history. Will the rights of Muslims to practice their religion be respected in America, and to what extent?

Please join us for an engaging discussion with an array of Islamic scholars, law school and university professors, legal practitioners, and advocates as we explore these issues. We eagerly anticipate your attendance on Friday, November 5th at the University of Maryland School of Law to engage in this timely dialogue and uncover the answers to these questions and more.

Since seating is limited, please RSVP via e-mail to rsvprrgc@gmail.com no later then October 31st, 2010. Please provide your full name, your institution, and indicate whether you will be attending the entire symposium or only the keynote lunch.

Questions? Contact Hera Hashmi, Executive Symposium Editor: rsvprrgc@gmail.com


Provisional Schedule of Events and List of Speakers:


8:30 – 9:00: Check-in & Breakfast

9:00 – 9:15: Welcome

9:15 – 9:30: Introductory Remarks

9:30 – 10:45: Panel 1: Shari’ah: Setting the Record Straight

This panel is meant to uncover the mystery of Shari'ah, or Islamic law. It will begin with a presentation on the basics of Islamic law, and briefly cover the sources of Islamic law, what it governs, and how rulings are made. Then a discussion of the challenges to codifying Islamic law and the pluralism in Islamic law will follow, and finally this panel will discuss what Muslims do when they live in a country that does not abide by Islamic law.

11:00 – 12:00: Panel 2: Muslims in a Secular State: Islamic Law and Constitutions

Does Islamic law conflict with secular Constitutions? Or do the two have more in common then we think? This panel will shed some light on where Islamic law stands in relation to secular legal systems such as in Europe, Canada, and even the United States. Can Islamic law coexist with secular constitutions, and should it? How does Islamic law implemented in a secular state differ from Islamic law practiced in a state with an Islamic Constitution?

12:00 – 1:30: Lunch & Keynote Address: Freedom of Religion, Minority Rights, and the American Constitution

1:30--2:00 Break for Coffee/Tea (or Friday Prayer for Muslim participants)

2:15 – 3:45: Panel 3: Perceptions of Muslims in America: The face of Islam

This panel will give some insight into the perception of Muslims in America and current case law and challenges faced by the Muslim community. A few panelists will give anthropological insight into the Muslim community and its ethnic identity and struggles in American society while others will discuss civil rights, and hate crimes, post 9/11 employment discrimination as well as national security and detention cases faced by Muslims. This panel will also discuss the impact of current events on the Muslim American community.

3:45 4:00: Concluding Remarks


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UM | About This Site | Site Map | Contact Us


500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2014, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved