Global Halal: An International Conference on Muslims and The Cultural Politics of the Permissible


February 19 – 21, 2015
International Center and Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan

Global Halal is an international conference organized by the Muslim Studies Program at
Michigan State University in partnership with the UK-based Muslim, Trust and Cultural Dialogue Program. The conference topic addresses a range of cultural, economic and political concerns associated with the principle of halal, especially in relation to contemporary food, banking, and lifestyle. Often associated with Muslim dietary practices, the concept of halal applies to that which is permissible to Muslims and serves as one of the key ethical concepts in Islamic theological doctrines. Yet as with any religious principle, concepts like halal and its antithesis haram, are subject to interpretation and variation, especially in the contemporary global era. Muslim practices today are conditioned by a wide-range of technological and contextual influences that raise many questions about what constitutes halal. While the term halal refers to all that is permitted, its specific associations with Islamic restrictions underscore the cultural politics of religious practices at a time of growing awareness among Muslims of the ethics of consumption, the diversity of cultural values, the changing nature of interpersonal relations, and the globalization of financial interactions. In the majority Muslim regions of the world, halal is embedded in daily life, but it nevertheless raises other issues, for example in regard to the rights of non-Muslim minorities. In contexts where Islam is the minority religion, adaptations of daily practices have been historically necessary to the establishment of Muslim communities. With the growing number of Muslims in Europe and North America, there has been increased demand for halal options, especially with regard to the availability and marketing of halal meats, which has caused some controversy in the United States, Britain, France, among other countries. These controversies illustrate the centrality of the halal concept in contemporary discussions of Muslimness, national belonging and ethics. This conference will provide a forum for exploring the principle of halal within a global context, emphasizing the complexities of the permissible and the impermissible (haram).

Conference Program
Thursday, February 19, 2015
3:00 – 3:30 p.m.  Refreshments and Registration ( Room 303, International Center)
3:30 – 4:00 p.m.  Welcoming and opening remarks

4:00 – 5:30 p.m.  Panel 1: Re-imagining Muslimness in Diaspora
Moderator: Salah Hassan, Michigan State University
Aliyah Khan, “Good Muslims, Bad Muslims, and the Secret of the New York White Sauce”
Achmat Salie, “Halaaloween”
Alysa Perkins, “Islam Homosexuality and Sexual Boundaries in an immigrant city”
Shabana Mir,  “Dancing in front of boys can taint you: Muslim American women on campus”

6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Opening Keynote (Room 303, International Center)
John Esposito,  “Islam and Shariah in American pop culture: halal and haram”

Friday, February 20, 2015
8:45 – 9:00 a.m. Coffee and Refreshments ( Room 303, International Center)
9:00 – 9:15 a.m. Welcome

9:15 – 10:45 a.m. Panel 2: Global Halal Markets
Moderator: Stephen Gasteyer, Michigan State University
Elif Izberk-Biligin, “Faith-based Marketing and the Emergence of the Global Halal Industry
Sharif Islam, The Semiotics of Halal: Mosqueing the Marketplace in Hamtrack
Ryan Calder, “How do we study the “Halal Revolution?” A map of existing investigations on Global Halal and agendas for future research”

11:00 – 12:00 p.m. Keynote Speaker
Kecia Ali, “Redeeming Slavery: ISIS and the Quest for Islamic Morality”

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Panel 3: Ethics and Traditions
Moderator: Younus Mirza, Allegheny College
Nathan Tabor, The Bottle Let me Down: Intoxicants and Poetry Recitation in 1700s Safavid and Mughal Lands
Moustafa Elsayed, Permissibility of the Maulida: Historical and Contemporary Debates
Tazeen Ali & Evan Anhorn, The (Im)permissibility of Jihad and Hijrah: Western Muslims between Text and Context
Yasmin Moll, Natural Pleasures: Ethical Entertainment in the Islamic Revival

3:15 – 4:45 p.m. Panel 4: Negotiating Halal in the Arts
Moderator: Karin Zitzewitz, Michigan State University
Alaya Forte & Asmaa Soliman, “Halalising the Arts: How European Muslims Negotiate Religion & the Arts”
Peter G Morey, “‘Halal Fiction'” and the Limits of the Postsecular”
Leila Tarakji, “The Halal Question in Muslim American Literature”
Amina Yaqin, “The Permissibility of Sufi rock music in Pakistan”

7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Keynote Speakers (Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center Auditorium)
Ingrid Mattson, “Let’s Get Real: The Body as the Locus of Ethical Action”
Sherman Jackson, “Beyond Halal: Shariah and the Challenge of the Islamic Secular”

Saturday, February, 21, 2015
9:30 – 10:45 a.m. Panel 5: Law, Power and Belonging ( Red Cedar A/B, Kellogg Center)
Moderator: Emine Evered, Michigan State University
Rula Al Abdulrazak and Geeta Patel, “Trust and Islamic Capital”
Umut Korkut & Hande Eslen-Ziya, “Haram versus Halal in the Eyes of the Beholder: The case of Turkish Friday Mosque Sermons”
Liyakat Takim, “Fiqh for Minorities: Shi’i Law in the Diaspora”
11:00 – 12:30 p.m. Panel 6: Hala Meat Industry in International Contexts
Moderator: Safoi Babana-Hampton, Michigan State University
Shadia Husseini de Araújo, “‘Even more halal?’ Interpretations of the permissible and the Brazilian halal chicken industry”
Oliver Leaman, “Controversies about halal: a British debate”
Cedomir Nestorovic, “Philosophical and Political Reasons for Non-Regulation of Halal Food in Europe and North America”
Sarah E. Robinson, “Sourcing Zabiha-Halal Meat as an Expression of Piety: Taqwa Eco-food Cooperative’s Care Ethics in Action”

Keynote Biographies
Dr. Ingrid Mattson is the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Formerly, she was professor of Islamic Studies, founder of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and director of the MacDonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT. She earned her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999. She is the author of The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life, as well as numerous articles exploring the relationship between Islamic law and society, gender and leadership issues in contemporary Muslim communities. From 2006-2010 Dr. Mattson served as President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); she previously served two terms as Vice-President. Dr. Mattson was born in Canada, where she studied Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario (B.A. ‘87). From 1987-1988 she lived in Pakistan where she developed and implemented a midwife-training program for Afghan refugee women. Dr. Mattson is frequently consulted by media, government and civic organizations and has served as an expert witness.

Dr. Kecia Ali (Ph.D., Religion, Duke University) teaches a range of classes on Islam. Her research focuses on Islamic law; women and gender; ethics; and biography. Her books include Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence (2006), Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam (2010), Imam Shafi‘i: Scholar and Saint (2011), and The Lives of Muhammad (2014), about modern Muslim and non-Muslim biographies of Islam’s prophet. She has also co-edited the revised edition of A Guide for Women in Religion, which provides guidance for careers in religious studies and theology (2014). Ali held research and teaching fellowships at Brandeis University and Harvard Divinity School before joining the BU faculty in 2006. She is active in the American Academy of Religion and currently serves as President of the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics.

Dr. John L. Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, and Professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. He earned his B.A. at St. Anthony College, his M.A. at St. John’s University, and his Ph.D. at Temple University. Professor Esposito is Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding: History and International Affairs in the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He has served as President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies. A specialist in Islam, political Islam, and the impact of Islamic movements from North Africa to Southeast Asia, Dr. Esposito serves as a consultant to the Department of State as well as multinational corporations, governments, universities, and the media worldwide. In 2005, Professor Esposito won the American Academy of Religion’s prestigious Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. A prolific writer, Professor Esposito is the author of over 25 books, including What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, and Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, The Oxford History of Islam, and The Oxford Dictionary of Islam.

Dr. Sherman Jackson is an adjunct scholar and a member of the board of advisors at ISPU and the King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He previously was in the Near Eastern Studies Department at the University of Michigan. He is the author of a plethora of books, including Islam and the Blackamerican, The Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam, and Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi. He has also written a number of thought-provoking articles, such as “Literalism, Empiricism, and Induction: Apprehending and Concretizing Islamic Law’s Maqasid al-Shariah in the Modern World,” and “Secular vs. Religious Salvation.” In addition, Dr. Jackson is the Co-Founder of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM), as well as past president of Shari’ah Scholar Association of North America, among many other board positions in several organizations. He received his Bachelors cum laude, Masters, and Doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Oriental Studies, Islamic Near East.
This conference has been organized by the Muslim Studies Program in collaboration with the Asian Studies Center at Michigan State University in partnership with the University of East London
Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue project.

College of Arts and Letters
College of Social Sciences
Department of History
Honors College
James Madison College
With additional support from:
Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies
Department of Anthropology
Department of Philosophy Department of Sociology
Department of Religious Studies
Department of Sociology
Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities
Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

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