The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), through its Saudi-based Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA), seeks to bring Islamic jurisprudence to bear on key matters affecting modern life and international law. Since the 1980s, IFA has been offering guidance to Muslims worldwide. IFA’s goal is to unify Muslims, and restore the cultural authority of the global Muslim community. Because it consults widely with the most eminent religious scholars, and its contributing members are themselves internationally recognized as eminent jurists, IFA’s pronouncements represent the closest thing that exists to an authoritative religious consensus from the Muslim world. They also enjoy the political backing of the OIC.
Dr. Mark Durie discussed recent IFA fatwas on religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the question of whether and under what conditions Muslims are permitted by religious principles to participate as free citizens of non-Islamic, democratic states. He discussed the implications of these fatwas for religious freedom in the world today, for Muslims’ ability to participate freely in secular societies, and for the reformation of Islam.
Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, and pastor of an Anglican church. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations, and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA, and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.