About the Lecture:
Two views have come predominantly to characterise the nature and operations of the so-called Islamic State (IS) or khilafat, which was declared over large swathes of Syrian and Iraqi territories, including the latter’s second largest city, Mosul, in June 2014. One contends that IS was the embodiment of a Salafist-Wahhabi version of Islam, and therefore it was Islamic. This is not a view that has gained consensus amongst the theologians and scholars of Islam, with even some leading Salafist-Wahhabists having rejected it. The other view claims that IS has had nothing to do with Islam in both its ideological disposition and practical dispensations. It essentially argues that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and shuns any form of violence and discrimination that runs contrary to Islam’s emphasis on the sanctity of life and shared interests in humanity. It nonetheless recognises the fact that Islam like any divine faith is open to a range of interpretations and applications, but the one that carries authenticity must have the consensus of a cross-section of the mosaic Muslim world. The question is: Was IS Islamic or not, or did it exude a form of Salafism and Islamism of our time?
About the Speaker:
Amin Saikal is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Public Policy Fellow, and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (The Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University. He has been a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in International Relations, and Visiting Fellow to Princeton University, Cambridge University; the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; and Indiana University. He is an awardee of the Order of Australia (AM), and an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He is the author of numerous works on the Middle East, Central Asia, political Islam, and Russia. His recent works include: Iran at the Crossroads (Polity Press, 2016); Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq (I.B. Tauris, 2014); and Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (I.B. Tauris, 2012); The Rise and Fall of the Shah: Iran – from Autocracy to Religious Rule (Princeton University Press, 2009); Islam and the West: Conflict or Cooperation? (Palgrave Macmillan); co-author of Regime Change in Afghanistan: Foreign Intervention and Politics of Legitimacy (Westview Press, 1991); and editor of The Arab World and Iran: A Turbulent Region in Transition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Weak States, Strong Societies: Power and Authority in the New World Order (I. B. Tauris, 2016); co-editor of Afghanistan and its Neighbours after the NATO Withdrawal (Lexington Press, 2016); Democratization in the Middle East: Experiences, Struggles, Challenges (United Nations University Press, 2003); The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge University Press, 1989); Russia in Search of its Future (Cambridge University Press, 1985). He has published numerous articles in major international journals, book chapters in edited volumes, feature articles in major dailies, and he is a frequent commentator on Australian and international TV and radio.