• +6732463001 ext 2760
  • office.soascis@ubd.edu.bn

Monthly ArchiveJanuary 2016

SICON 5 (Latest updates)

5th SOASCIS International Conference (SICON 5)

Lecture Theatre Hall, The Core, Universiti Brunei Darussalam

9 – 11 May 2016



Possibilities in Light of the Traditional Ideas of Ijtihad, Tajdid, Islah and Bid’ah


First Announcement



  • International Islamic University Malaysia (Centre for Islamic Economics)
  • International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Necmettin Erbakan University, Konya, Turkey
  • Ebrahim College, London
  • The Islamic Academy, Cambridge, UK


1.      Background

The academic field popularly known as Islamic studies is offered in different universities and colleges throughout the world with varying scopes and objectives in mind. Some of these academic institutions offer Islamic studies for both undergraduate and graduate students while the others do either just for undergraduates or graduates. Most graduate programmes in Islamic studies are aimed at producing MAs and PhDs specialising in numerous branches of this fast growing field of studies. Due to a number of factors, particularly academic globalisation, there is a rapid convergence of graduate Islamic studies programmes in Western and Muslim universities in respects of structure, scope and academic evaluation criteria. At the undergraduate level, there is a noticeable difference between Islamic studies courses offered in universities and colleges in Muslim majority countries and those offered in the rest of the world both in the East and in the West. In the former case the main objective is to enable students interested in Islamic studies to earn a Bachelor’s degree majoring in the subject. In the latter case, however, the purpose is to just provide undergraduates with a broader range of courses to choose from in fulfilment of the elective courses or modules requirement.

Another notable difference between undergraduate Islamic studies programmes in Western and Muslim universities and colleges, a difference that is only to be expected given the strong influence of Islam on social policies, concerns the academic status of what is known in the latter institutions as the compulsory modules or courses for all their respective students. In some Muslim countries courses on Islamic civilisation, an important component of modern Islamic studies, are made mandatory to all students in public universities and colleges. This academic policy, which in some countries such as Malaysia has been enforced for years, has invited negative reactions from certain quarters. An important issue raised by critics concerning the compulsory teaching of Islamic civilisation in universities pertains to the effectiveness of the course as measured by the extent of realisation of its stated objectives and goals. In light of the ongoing criticism levelled against the policy SOASCIS chose the teaching of Islamic civilisation in universities as the main theme of SICON 4 that was held in November 2014.

Keeping track of the development of Islamic studies globally during the last few decades we have no doubt that in quantitative terms academic programmes in tertiary educational institutions dealing with one or more aspects of Islam and its culture and civilisation have seen a tremendous increase. However, with this increase in number competition for funding becomes stiffer. This competition is made more challenging as it is inescapably linked to competition for academic ranking. As a result, government-funded Islamic studies programmes have come under closer scrutiny to improve on their respective key performance indicators (KPI).

For various reasons Islamic studies programmes are under increasing pressure to remain relevant and competitive. Yet, some of these programmes continue to remain indifferent to the challenges now facing all academic courses in universities and challenges. In light of present and possible future challenges to Islamic studies SOASCIS proposes for its SICON 5 to deal with the theme of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Contemporary Islamic Studies: Possibilities in Light of the Traditional Ideas of Ijtihad, Tajdid, Islah and Bid’ah. SICON 5 would therefore be a very helpful academic and scholarly event to academic leaders of both traditional and Islamic studies programmes who are in search of new ideas and insights on how to renew, change or transform them to meet the needs of contemporary society. 


2.      Objectives of SICON 5

  • To explain the meanings and necessity of innovation and entrepreneurship as these ideas are applied to the field of Islamic studies
  • To provide a theoretical discussion of the ideas of ijtihad, tajdid, islah, and bid’ah with the view of examining the relevance of each of them to the pursuit of innovation and entrepreneurship in Islamic studies at the levels of both ideas and practices
  • To discuss opportunities of empowerment of Islamic studies that may open up from the application of the four fundamental ideas under discussion to the state of contemporary Islamic studies
  • To discuss the different kinds of challenges that may have to be faced in pursuing innovation and entrepreneurship in Islamic studies


3.      Sub-themes

  • Concepts of ijtihad, tajdid, islah and bid’ah as generating ideas and motivating factors for the progress of Islamic studies
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship in the context of Islamic studies
  • Empowerment of Islamic studies: opportunities and challenges


4.     Speakers

List of Speakers (confirmed)

  • Prof Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Kamal Hassan, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)
  • Prof Mohd Aslam Mohd Haneef, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)
  • Prof Datuk Dr Osman Bakar, SOASCIS, UBD
  • Prof Muzaffer Seker, Necmettin Erbakan University, Konya, Turkey
  • Prof Bilal Kuspinar, Necmettin Erbakan University, Konya, Turkey
  • Prof Omar Kasule, International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Dr Muhammad Mansur ASli, Ebrahim College, London, & Cardiff University
  • Sheikh Shams A. Muhammad, Ebrahim College, London
  • Pg Dr Norhazlin binti Pg Hj Muhammad, SOASCIS, UBD
  • Dr Mohamad Azmi bin Hj Mohamad, SOASCIS, UBD
  • Adna Shatriremie bin Hj A. Abd Rahman, UBDSBE & Entrepreneurship Village, UBD

List of Speakers (yet to confirm)

  • Prof Malik Badri, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)


5.      Dates and Venue

SICON 5 will last for two and a half days beginning from the morning of 9th May (Monday) to the noon of 11th May, 2016 (Wednesday). Foreign speakers and participants are expected to arrive in Brunei Darussalam on 8th May (Sunday).

SICON 5 is scheduled to be held at the Lecture Theatre Hall, The Core, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.


Our SICON 5 brochure and registration form are available here.


 6.      Registration Fees 

Participants from Brunei Darussalam

  • Students: BND 100
  • Non-students: BND 300
  • Institution/Organization (for a group of three persons) : BND 650

Participants from Outside Brunei Darussalam

  • Students:  USD 100
  • Non-students: USD 250
  • Institution/Organization (for a group of three persons): USD 550


7.      Tentative Programmes

First Day:

8.00 am – 9.00 am: Registration

9.00 am – 10.00 am: Opening Session

10.00 am – 11.15 am: Session 1 (Speaker 1)

11.15 am – 12.30 am: Session 2 (Speaker 2)

12.30 pm – 2.00 pm: Lunch/Prayer

2.00 pm – 3.15 pm: Session 3 (Speaker 3)

3.15 pm – 4.30 pm: Session 4 (Speaker 4)

4.30 pm: Refreshment


Second Day

9.00 am – 10.15 am: Session 5 (Speaker 5)

10.15 am – 10.45 am: Refreshment

10.45 am – 12.00 noon: Session 6 (Speaker 6)

12.00 noon – 12.30 pm: Briefing on SOASCIS Academic Network

Group Photo of Speakers

12.30 pm – 2.00 pm: Lunch/Prayer

2.00 pm – 3.15 pm: Session 7 (Speaker 7)

3.15 pm – 4.30 pm: Session 8 (Speaker 8)


Third Day

9.00 am – 10.15 am: Session 9 (Speaker 9)

10.15 am – 10.45 am: Refreshment

10.45 am – 12.00 noon: Session 10 (Speaker 10)

12.00 noon – 12.30 pm: All speakers in Special Discussion with participants

Topic: SICON 5 and Future Epistemological Issues for Islamic Studies


8. Enquiries about accommodation, visas and others matters.

For further information about hotel and hostel accommodation, visa requirements for non-Bruneians, please access SOASCIS website or contact SICON Secretariat (sicon.soascis@ubd.edu.bn)






Dr Surin Pitsuwan

Distinguished Professor in Studies of Islam and the ASEAN Community


Dr Surin Pitsuwan received his primary and secondary education in his home province of Nakorn Sri Thammarat, Southern Thailand. Except for his first two years of study as an undergraduate at Thammasat University in Bangkok, one of Thailand’s best known universities, Dr Surin Pitsuwan spent his entire tertiary education in the United States. He earned his MA and PhD in political science from Harvard University. His entire Harvard career was supported by the Winston S. Churchill Association, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation Fellowships. He also spent a year and a half studying Arabic and conducting his research at the American University in Cairo, 1975-1977, while concurrently a fellow at the Higher Council for Islamic Research, Cairo, Egypt.

Dr Surin spent his post-doctoral academic career at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University from 1978 to 1986 rising through the ranks to become a full Professor. Later he joined politics and rose to the position of Thailand’s Foreign Minister, the highest in his political career (1997 – 2001). Dr Surin became the 12th Secretary-General of ASEAN (2008 – 2012).  He contributed so much to the development of ASEAN not only when he was its Secretary-General but also when he was the Foreign Minister of Thailand.

Two of his most recognized accomplishments in dealing with ASEAN affairs were [1] first, spearheading the Asian countries to help restore law and order in East Timor during the violent uprising in the aftermath of the Referendum in August 1999, and [2] second, leading the ASEAN Member States and the United Nations and other international institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and various other International NGOs to enter Myanmar to rescue that country from the catastrophe of Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 and remained there until the mission was accomplished in December 2010.

In recognition of his many contributions to society, national and international, Dr Surin Pitsuwan has been conferred numerous awards, including a dozen or so honorary doctorate degrees from universities both in the East and in the West.


SOASCIS Graduate Seminar | January 2016

Planetary Sustainability and Justice

A Response to Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘On Care for Our Common Home’


Osman Bakar, PhD

Distinguished Professor and Director

Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS)

Universiti Brunei Darussalam





Pope Francis’ encyclical On Care for Our Common Home is an important document addressing the current state of ecological health of our planet Earth to which it refers as ‘Our Common Home’ and the attendant issue of the human responsibility to take care of it. Written in six chapters the encyclical may be viewed as the most comprehensive doctrinal position to date of the Catholic Church on what it calls ‘The Gospel of Creation’ and more specifically on what is now known as eco-theology. The encyclical provides a treatment of the human roots of the ecological crisis and presents an “integral ecology” that is to serve as the theological and philosophical background or as the conceptual basis for a global human action to deal with the contemporary crisis in question.

Muslim scholars and intellectuals have good reasons to take a special interest in this encyclical and offer a sound response to its perspectives and approaches to the contemporary ecological crisis. Going through its chapters we could see its many similarities with the Qur’an’s teachings on the subject of natural and eco-theology and the role and responsibility of human beings to take care of the planet Earth and administer it with justice. The similarities are so striking that one could say that the encyclical sounds like a commentary on the Qur’an. It is understandable if someone is tempted to make the claim that if would be more fitting if the encyclical were to be viewed as a commentary on the Quran than as a commentary on the Bibles. However, there are notable differences between the Islamic and the Catholic perspectives on terrestrial eco-theology and human custodianship of the planet Earth. Pope Francis’s encyclical thus provides another good new opportunity for Muslims and Christians to conduct a meaningful dialogue on issues of the common good, particularly on the future of “our common home” and our common responsibility to protect it with the greatest care.  In my presentation I will highlight some of the similarities and differences between the two religious perspectives. My own understanding of the Qur’anic cosmology is that the Earth is not just “our common home.” It is also our only home in the cosmos!