International Conference on “Islam in Africa”
Organized by the Foundation for Research in Islamic Sciences (ISAV) in cooperation with Istanbul Medeniyet University and the Association of Researchers in Africa (AFAM), the “International Conference on Islam in Africa” was held in Istanbul on 22-23 April 2017.
The conference brought together renowned scientists from Turkey and various African countries. During the two-day conference, 36 papers were presented in ten sessions by academics and researchers in Turkish, Arabic, and English, discussing various topics including the spread of Islam in Africa, the role of different countries founded in the continent both in Islam and world history, their struggles against imperialism, the blows inflicted by imperialist countries on Muslim communities in Africa, missionary activities in the continent, and the recovery of Muslim societies in continental Africa after they gained their independence.
The opening speech was delivered by Prof. Dr. Ahmet Kavas, Dean of our Faculty of Political Sciences who also acted as the Coordinator of the meeting, while Prof. Dr. Ali Özek, President of ISAV, our Rector Prof. Dr. M. İhsan Karaman, and Assoc. Prof. Enver Arpa on behalf of Prof. Dr. Mehmet Görmez, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, spoke at the opening session chaired by Prof. Dr. Salih Tuğ. The keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Dr. Khadim Mbacke from Senegal, who was followed by 36 speakers in ten sessions.
Expressing the pleasure of being one of the organizers of such an important conference, Rector Prof. Dr. Karaman underlined that introduction and spread of Islam to Africa and elsewhere was achieved by spreading knowledge and winning hearts, which is a hallmark of Islamic tradition. Nevertheless, Islam and humanness has suffered greatly since the continent was discovered by imperialists in the 18th century. Providing examples of inhumane treatment suffered by Africans at the hand of imperialists, such as the well-documented atrocities perpetrated under the personal rule of King Leopold II of Belgium in the Congo Free State, Prof. Dr. Karaman also touched upon the missionary activities in the African continent where approximately 700 million Muslims live and noted that "in the early 1800s, Christian population in Africa amounted to about 7 percent, while the figure has risen to over 50 percent today." Prof. Dr. M. İhsan Karaman expressed his wish that the outcomes of such scientific meetings would help the people of Africa be introduced to Islam once again.
The conference received wide audience participation from African and Turkish academics and researchers, and representatives of Muslim NGOs, as well as African undergraduate and graduate students studying in Turkey.