Ibadism and the Study of Islam: A view from the edge

In his seminal "Islam: The View from the Edge", historian Richard Bulliet focused on Islam in Persia, suggesting that the study of Islam from the margins or edges, rather than center, offers newfound opportunities for the field. Shahab Ahmed’s posthumous What is Islam? offers a similar critique of Islamic studies, suggesting a geographic and temporal shift from what, he argues, has been central to the formation of Islamic studies as an academic field.  The study of Ibadism offers an opportunity to interrogate the study of Islam, where Ibadism takes shape on the edge or periphery, both intellectually and geographically. Recently Cyrille Aillet in his edition "L’Ibadisme dans les sociétés de l’islam medieval", re-argues that a detour through the edge (“le detour par le marges,” p. 5) is conducive to the construction of a plural history and the recognition of polycentrism in Islam.

The 10th Conference of Ibadi Studies will be hosted this June 17-19, 2019 by the University of Toronto’s Institute of Islamic Studies. The Conference will locate the study of Ibadism interdisciplinarily as we examine how the spatial metaphor of center and edge, when applied to the study of Ibadism, can gesture to new research orientations in the field of Islamic studies.

Expounding on this theme through interdisciplinary study is especially apropos given the geographic location of our host university, the University of Toronto, in North America. Across Canada and the United States, there is a fundamental divide between different paradigms or methods of knowledge creation: (a) the philology inherited from the 19th century German university tradition; (b) the area studies model of the Cold War; and (c) the more anthropologically inspired approach to Islamic studies that at times collapses Islam and Muslim through the focus on experience and lived realities. Moreover, as is known to our community of scholars, the study of Islam falls uneasily between the academic study characteristic of North American and European universities on the one hand, and the more confessional character of religious study across the Muslim majority world.  Sitting at the edge of both worlds, this year’s conference theme necessarily embraces both in the spirit of critical engagement and analysis.

The panels will be organized under five broad disciplinary/methodological categories:

  • The Politics of Periodization: A History of Philology, Philosophy and Theology through the Study of Ibadism
  • Working on the texts: Manuscript Studies and Historiography
  • (Dis)Orienting Legal Studies: A critical assessment of Islamic Law
  • Anthropology, Material Culture and Social Representations
  • Political Sciences and Religion: Modern and Contemporary Approaches

Please send all information to the present website.

Scientific Committee

  • Abdulrahman Al Salmi, Sultanate of Oman
  • Adam Gaiser, Florida University
  • Angeliki Ziaka, Aristotle University
  • Ersilia Francesca, University Orientale
  • Valerie Hoffman, Illinois Urbana-Champaign University
  • Yohei Kondo,Tokyo University