Muslims in Europe in the Interwar Years: A Trans-cultural Perspective


Monday, November 16, 2015, 2:00pm to 4:00pm


CMES, Room 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA

The CMES Director's Series and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program present

Umar Ryad
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University.

European Muslim Congress, Geneva 1935
Umar Ryad is currently associate professor of Islamic Studies, Research Institute for Philosophy and Religious Studies, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University. He obtained his MA degree in Islamic Studies (cum laude) from Leiden University (2001), where he also received his PhD degree in June 2008 with the thesis Islamic Reformism and Christianity: A Critical Study of the Works of Muhammad Rashid Rida and His Associates (1898–1935) (Brill, 2009). Ryad's current research focuses on the modern Islamic intellectual and religious history, dynamics of the networks of Islamic reformist and pan-Islamist movements, Muslim polemics on Christianity, the history of Christian missions in the modern Muslim World, and transnational Islam in interwar Europe.

No comprehensive attempt has yet been made to cover the history of Muslims in interwar Europe. Historians of the modern Middle East underestimate the role of interwar Muslim actors in writing a history of Islam, whereas historians of Europe underestimate their role in intra-European developments. Existing works focus either on the nineteenth-century Muslim travelers, diplomats, students and residents or on the later post-World War II influx of Muslim immigrant workers. Prof Ryad intends to analyse some of the multiple aspects of the global Muslim religious, political and intellectual affiliations in interwar Europe, broadly defined. How did Muslims in interwar Europe act and interact among each other; and within the European socio-political and cultural context? The talk tries to answer this question by studying the intellectual and religio-political roles played by Muslim "intellectual agents" during the interwar years and up until the rest of World War II (1918-1946). It represents a step towards a systematic global approach of Muslim connections in interwar Europe. It also tries to contribute to our historical conceptualization of Europe itself as much as to our understanding of the contemporary scene of Islam in Europe and the world today, without resorting to a neatly tailored hypothesis. Many Muslim groups in the West nowadays still trace their heritage to the ideas of the great reformers of the early 20th century. More historical reflection on Islam in Europe can put the present "fear" for Islamization of the West into perspective. (Image: European Muslim Congress, Geneva 1935)

This talk is part of the European Research Council (ERC) funded project Neither visitors, nor colonial victims: Muslims in Interwar Europe and European Trans-cultural History .

Contact: Liz Flanagan
Co-sponsors: Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Center for Middle Eastern Studies