The Eighth Commemoration of the Death of Imam Abdessalam Yassine-A Report on the Fourth Session

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The fourth penultimate session features lectures in four foreign languages, namely English, French, Spanish, and Turkish. The session opens with a video about Imam Yassine’s proposed ethical-spiritual antidote to the emptiness and moral decadence of our world.

Three lectures were given in English. The first, titled “Moral Leadership in a Turbulent World: Towards a Humanity-Centered Paradigm” was delivered by Dr. Hassan Elannani, A.P. at the University of Wisconsin, USA. The lecturer advances a comparative approach to human rights: the secular approach represented Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the religious approach represented by “The Declaration towards a Global Ethic”, and Abdessalam Yassine’s critical and spiritual approach in which the Imam rethinks the authenticity of human rights and attempts a “re-purposing” of their finality.

The second lecture was given by Dr. Salma Jeghalef, Professor at Pennsylvania University, USA, under the title “The verse and we have not sent you but Mercy to all creation.” Dr. Jeghalef stressed the idea that true and fully-fledged mercy emanates from a divine source which makes it necessarily inclusive of all human beings. Considered in this light, mercy becomes a duty towards fellow human beings. The lecturer ends her lecture with straightforward and practical tips about mercy, namely: strengthening one’s belief in and devotion to God, strengthening the presence of the Prophet, God’s prayers and pace be upon him in one’s life, and surrounding oneself with the company of merciful and righteous people.

The third lecture, titled “Redefining the Role of Muslims in the West: The Humanist Dimension of Islam”, was delivered by Dr. Hammadi Nait Charif, professor at Bournemouth University, UK. The lecturer begins with the assertion that Islam has become a significant part of the social fabric in Europe. Discussing the challenges that Muslim immigrants at present face in Europe, the lecturer refutes the notion that exclusively allies humanism with Christian and Western values. Mr. Hammadi argues, and this is the thesis of his presentation, that the human being lies at the core of the fundamental Islamic ethics. To revive make the latter a tangible reality, he argues, Muslims have to seek the inspiration from their prophet’s merciful and compassionate conduct towards the religious and cultural other as they have to transcend what Imam Abdessalam Yassine calls transcending the “narrow-minded” jurisprudence (e.g. the outdated division between the land of peace and that of war).

The fifth and sixth lectures were delivered in French by Dr. Azeddine Hmimsa, a researcher associate in Concorida University, Canada and Dr. François Clarinval, a professor in the European Institute of Islamic Sciences in Nederland respectively. In his lecture, titled “Contribution d’Abdessalam Yassine aux perspectives humanistes: Un humanisme libéré de l’Eurocentrisme et de l’hégémonie”, Dr. Hmimsa offers a review and critique of the common humanisms on the intellectual landscape, explaining how they have always attempted to negate, and even distort, each other. Imam Yassine, the lecturer states, is conscious of the multiplicity of humanisms. Acknowledging their achievements and strengths, he presents a critical reading that a) refutes the reductionist view of the human being that negates the latter’s right to know his/her Creator; he denounces the narrow sectarian and doctrinal view that underpins certain humanisms, and he emphasizes the necessity of enabling the human being from all forms of social welfare including the capital.

Dr. François Clarinval’s presentation is titled “Actualité et portée de la conception humaniste de l’imâm Abdessalam Yassine.”  Its main thrust centers on dismantling the Eurocentric view that confines humanism to the achievements of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Stressing the idea of humanisms, rather than one Humanism, the lecturer explains that all the humanisms address four basic questions: the human nature; the definition of the human being; his/her place in the world; and his/her destiny and finitude. By these standards, the Islamic religion is a humanist religion par excellence as all these issues are addressed in full detail in the Qur’ān. In the last section of his lecture, Dr. Clarinval outlines the contours of Imam Yassine’s “spiritual humanism” which stands against the modern “hegemonic bestial project” that subtracts God from the existence of the human being, reducing the latter to the materialistic aspects of her/his existence.

The panel concluded with a Q&A session. The audience raised very interesting questions and issues. The discussion touched mainly on the apparent contradiction between religious ethics and secular human rights, the recognition of the other, and the ways of reacting to the violations of human rights.

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