WHY HASSAN AL-TURABI

Shaykh Hassan Al=Turabi, may Allah have mercy on him, lived a life of struggle and was an embodiment of modern Muslim scholarship and leadership. Admittedly he was human and must have had his failings, but his intellectual prowess, his energy and stamina and his staying power and strategic thinking was untypical in his generation. His contribution to Muslim reawakening, his unique sense of justice that allowed him to engage a plural society, his eclectic and encyclopedic learning, his constant prodding, if sometimes provocative and controversial, not only made him stood out among modern Muslim scholars of his time but actually kept the Muslim community, not only in Sudan, but world over, constantly on its toes. His demise, well over a year ago, is therefore a great loss to the Muslim Ummah and his contributions, indelible as they will remain, must now be harnessed for posterity and the lessons in them brought to the fore, for the benefit of the ever growing and ever complex Muslim community.

TURABI AND NIGERIAN MEETING OF MINDS

Nigeria, with its overwhelming similarities with the Sudan and its long historical and inextricable links with the Sudan has benefited from Turabi’s contributions and stand to benefit from the lessons of Turabi’s life struggle. Muslims in Nigeria, very much like their brothers in the Sudan, have been struggling under modern western system of democracy, which has been at variance with the values of the socio-cultural environment. This has, rather predictably, created tensions and has elicited military interventions, which only added to the complications rather than the resolutions of the problems. Some of these issues, specifically, power-sharing, wealth-sharing and the place of religion and identity in a plural society, have recently featured prominently in the re-structuring debate in Nigeria. As this debate drags on, Muslims have to leverage their intellectual heritage to engage their plural societies. The life and works of Turabi is going to be of immense benefit in this respect and we need to bring it closer to the generations of Nigerians who will ultimately bear the brunt of this intellectual struggle in Nigeria.

THE IDEA BEHIND THE CONFERENCE

The importance of a conference on Dr. Hassan Al-Turabiin Nigeria is not only to commemorate his life but also to bring out its lessons for our country. Holding it in Nigeria will have the added and important benefit of bringing the life of Turabi and his contributions to the younger generation many of whom may have at best heard about or read him but never met him. This link with the young is essential for sharing knowledge, learning from experiences and sustaining the essential tempo of Islamic awareness, especially its ability to embrace and accommodate a plural society for which late Hassan has distinguished himself among modern Muslim scholars.

OBJECTIVES OF THE CONFERENCE

The objectives of the conference include:

To bring together, as full a grasp as possible, the contributions of the polymath that Shaykh Hassan had been and preserve these for posterity.

To analyze Shaykh Hassan’s contribution within the context of Sudanese socio-political environment and bring out the lessons for our contemporary times.

To take specific areas like the mobilization of Muslim Women and the impact this has had on Muslim societies, not only in the Sudan, but beyond.

To collate and assess the views of contemporary scholars on some of the thoughts of Shaykh Hassan to have an idea of the debate about and around his views.

To look at a post Turabi Muslim intellectual discourse and see what is there to prepare for and how?

The theme of the conference is ‘Thoughts and Ideas of Shaykh Dr. Hassan al-Turabi and the Challenges of Contemporary Muslim Society.’

EXPECTED PARTICIPANTS

This is an international conference open to all, Muslims and in the spirit of Turabi, even non-Muslims. But what is at point here are those that would need to be there to make the conference complete and worthy of the efforts. For instance, his close disciples who lived and worked with him and who can speak on his personality and some aspects of his contributions, which may not have been documented.Then there are those scholars who have written about him or his works, especially those that have or could capture his vision of the Muslim world or his vision of Africa. Also those who have had other associations with him, his students, those who met him and those who may not have had a chance to meet him but who have something tangible to say about him.Also scholars who are familiar with him and for whom this conference will deepen their understanding of him and elicit interest in his contributions for further research and writing.

There is another dimension in form of an exhibition on him and his works to bring the man closer to the younger generation in particular.

Generally, participants are expected to come primarily from Sudan and Nigeria, but others from West Africa, Egypt, UK, US, Malaysia and even China, are welcome, in keeping with his global vision and perspective.

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