The Great Debates: Islamic Debate


Asia Society's Great Debates: Traditions and Forms series explores systems of debates and discourse across cultures and religions. Each program provides an overview of the debate form through a short lecture and continues with a panel that demonstrates a potential interpretation on a current topical issue. The first program focused on Tibetan Buddhist debate, and the second program considered Jewish Talmudic debate. A program on Confucian/Taoist Debate will be presented in early 2012.

Shari'a is an Arabic word meaning "path" or "way." It is the moral code and religious law of Islam which is drawn from two primary sources: the precepts laid out in the Qur'an and the example set by the prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah or Hadith. Shari'a was largely laid out by Muslim scholars in the first three centuries of Islam, after the death of Muhammad.

The elaboration of the Shari'a, continued over time. Shari’a addresses both secular laws, such as politics and economics, as well as personal matters, like hygiene, diet and prayer. It attempts to address all possible human acts, dividing them into permitted (halal) and forbidden (haram).

Though all Muslims agree that Shari'a is God's law, they differ over the interpretation of Shari'a in matters of detail as well as principle. Different societies, cultures and sects all have varying interpretations of Shari'a. In the U.S. there has been a great deal of controversy in certain circles about the place of Shari'a in Muslim life. What are the critical issues for Muslims today with respect to the Shari'a? Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Religion and Islamic Studies, Duke University, will lead a panel discussion on Shari'a and Islamic law. With Imam Khalid Latif, Executive Director and Chaplain (Imam) for the Islamic Center at NYU and Imam Shamsi Ali, Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York.

The Great Debates: Traditions and Forms series is made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation NYC Cultural Innovation Fund.

Series overview page

Speakers bios can be read here

Can't make it to the program? This event will also be a free live webcast at at 6:30 pm ET. Online viewers are encouraged to submit questions to

Event Details

Thu 08 Dec 2011
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
725 Park Avenue, New York, NY
Buy Tickets
$10 members; $12 students and seniors; $15 non-members
Add to Calendar 20111208T233000 20111209T013000 UTC Asia Society: The Great Debates: Islamic Debate 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY