December, 11 to December 12, 2022
Orient Institute Beirut - Cairo office
Discussing the interdependence between Humans, Religion and Environment
Religion, Religiosity and Society
On 11 and 12 December 2022
In Alexandria, Egypt
Humans are a product of their environment, as well as their religion, and the various and different manifestations of religiosity flourish according to the environments in which they were raised. This does not conflict with the principle of monotheism or the oneness of God or even the oneness of religion. In ancient Egypt, many gods were worshiped, but the sun remained the supreme manifestation of the supreme god, the creator god who gives life and regulates the laws of the environment and nature as the ancient Egyptians saw it reflected in their environment on the banks of the Nile River. We also see in the Old Testament a pluralistic conception of the god of the gods in the word Elohim. As if oneness is the epitome of a special human experience for the children of Israel. It does not negate the pluralism in the form of other deities of the neighboring nations.
It is not only anthropology, religious sociology, and the philosophy of religions, which has conveyed to us a conception of the emergence of religions, but the sacred texts themselves tell us narrations of the emergence of the doctrine of monotheism. According to verses [6: 76-79] “[6:76] So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones. [6:77] Then when he saw the moon rising, he said: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people. [6:78] Then when he saw the sun rising, he said: Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest? So when it set, he said: O my people! surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah). [6:79] Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists.”
The eminent Grand Imam, Sheikh of al-Azhar, Mahmoud Shaltout, went further in his book al-Islam ʿaqīda wa sharīʿa (Islam Creed and Sharia), where he mentioned in more than one place the relevance of the Qur’an to the environment of its revelation. All this prompts us to re-read the religious text in its environmental, societal and historical contexts to reconnect the structure of religiosity with the structure of the environment/society.
Islam is also characterized as a model with a heavy presence of the community in the structure of the founding text; The Qur’an was revealed in portions, i.e. over a period of twenty-three years, during which it interacted with its society, and this interaction appeared in the text. The difference between the Meccan Qur'an and the Medinan Qur'an is a reflection of the different social and political contexts between Mecca and Medina. Among the effects of the interaction between revelation and the community of the revelation is the revelation’s response to the requirements of the first community and the answer to its members questions, and this is evident in the repetition of the words “and they ask you… say.”
The forefathers felt the necessity of interpreting the Qur’an according to its social context, so they established a study of the causes and occasions of revelation and it became an integral part of traditional interpretations and Qur’anic studies. This topic also constitutes a fertile aid for the researcher who seeks to reveal the sociology of the Qur'an and the sociology of Prophet's Muhammad's message. The study of the causes and occasions of revelation has become a basic pillar of all modern approaches to the Qur’anic text and all modern sociological studies of early Islam.
In the second conference of the research program "Discussing the interdependence between Humans, Religion and Environment" participants will discuss the mutual influences between religion, religiosity and society/environment through four main areas:
1.) the Interdependence between the community of revelation to the initial form of Sharia,
2.) societal transformations and their effects on reshaping religious laws
3.) the jurisprudence (fiqh) of the current controversial issues regarding minorities, and the purposes (maqasid) towards a re-reading of Sharia
4.) the contributions of religion to contemporary societal transformations.