Alongside the 3 keynote speakers, ‘Ilm: Science, Religion, and Art in Islam will present 37 additional speakers including established scholars, mid-career academics, HDR candidates, and artists and curators. Their bios and and abstracts are given below:


Established Scholars

Virginia Hooker, Emeritus Professor and Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA), is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. She has been publishing on Islam in the Malayo-Indonesian world since 1970.

‘Knowledge through sight and insight: contemporary calligraphic painting in Indonesia’   The paper analyses the choice of Qur’anic texts, the visual elements, and the use of light, in several calligraphic paintings. For artists inspired by Islam, the essence of ‘ilm is the divine wisdom of the Qur’an. They seek to express the inspiration of revealed knowledge in visual forms so that reader-viewers can experience  knowledge rationally, spiritually, and emotionally.


Hamza Zeghlache, is Professor of Islamic Architecture at the University of Setif, Algeria. He received both his Masters and Doctoral (Ph.D) degrees from the University of Virginia (USA). He has done an interdisciplinary study of Architecture and Anthropology. His present interest is on textual representation of space within the Islamic cultural tradition. He has taught in the Department of Religious Studies at the Florida International University (Miami) under the Understanding Contemporary Islam (American University of Beirut) and the Fulbright Program. Presently he is the director of Laboratory of Mediterranean Architecture and a professor of History of Architecture  at the University of Setif, Algeria.

‘Textual Representation of Space in the Islamic Cultural Tradition’   This paper deals with the cultural conception of the Islamic city and its traditional craft thorough study of classical religio-architectural treatises of Islam. The empirical focus of this study is the sixteenth century Arabic written Islamic manuscript in the science of Ilm El Athar based on the enquiries of traces, entitled ‘Indication on landmarks of the God’s Sacred Territories’(my translation) of the writer Qotb el Din,a native of Mecca (Saudis Arabia) and  a member of the sixteenth century literati. Historically, architects have always been part of the intellectual elite, possessing true knowledge in the global sense of the word partaking from the leading edge of philosophy and science.

Randi Deguilhem is Professor with the CNRS, TELEMME-MMSH-AMU, France. She directs a seminar on waqf in Islam at IISMM-EHESS, Paris. A historian of modern-contemporary MENA, she specializes on 19th–21st century Syria. Her research includes Ottoman educational infrastructures and secularizing trends in late Ottoman Syria and the Mandate. She has published and co-edited 10 books and over 50 articles.

‘Between Nahda and Tanzimat: Knowledge and Opinion in the late Ottoman Damascene Lycée Maktab ‘Anbar’   Categorization of knowledge and systemization of its teaching reflects society’s assessment of its past and future, shaping transmission and nature of knowledge especially towards youth and defining career paths. This presentation focuses on nahda as an aggregate of knowledge and Tanzimat as a codification of it within Ottoman legislation, both of which are expressed within the curriculum in the late Ottoman Damascene lycée Maktab ‘Anbar.

Amir H. Zekrgoo, Professor of Islamic and Oriental Arts at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) since 2011, has been writing and lecturing on subjects related to art, symbolism and mysticism in Asian religious traditions (Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu) for over 25 years. He has authored 12 books and over a hundred articles. He is an artist as well, and his art works have been exhibited in over 50 exhibitions in Asia, America and Europe since 1977.

‘Science of the Self as Expressed in the Snake Catcher’s Narrative: Rumi’s Mathnawi in Context’   Snake, in Rumi’s Mathnawi, is representative of man’s inner enemy – his self. “The Story of the Snake Catcher” in the Mathnawi is about man’s challenge in confronting his own ego. It offers a compound religious subject in an easy-to-digest manner that can be easily visualized and set into a play. This paper proposes to analyze the story and its characters in the context of ‘Ilm al-Nafs or the science of the self.

Mandana Barkeshli, Associate Professor, is a Conservation Scientist, currently Chairman of The Islamic Manuscript Association (TIMA), the Faculty Member of the International Islamic University, Malaysia (IIUM), Editorial Board Member of the International Journal for the Preservation of Library and Archival Material (Restaurator) and Former Head Curator of Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM).

‘Science Behind the Materials and Techniques for Production of Persian Islamic Manuscripts’   Study of Islamic manuscript is presented with special emphasis on the materials and techniques used in their production based on historical and science analysis. Historical analysis was carried out to collect recipes from Taimurid to Qajar historical treatises whereas materials and techniques were identified using scientific analysis on original samples.

Manu P. Sobti is Associate Professor and PhD Program Chair in Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures (BLC) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (USA). His research specialties cover the architectural and urban histories of Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. He has published widely and is the recipient of a number of prestigious research awards.

‘Histories of Space and Place: Viewing Ones Place Within the Landscape’   Within meanings attributed to Ilm as the act of knowledge-creation, the ‘descriptions of the world’ were comprehended at multiple scales. This examination of ‘landscape knowledge’ employs four Islamic manuscripts to explore prevalent world-views pertaining to the geographical and topological variants of space and place, as specifically relevant to the mercurial histories of the Islamic epochs.

Itzchak Weismann is Associate Professor of Islamic studies and former Director of the Jewish-Arab Center at Haifa University. His research interests focus on Salafism, Islamic movements in the Middle East and South Asia, Sufism, modern Islamic thought and interfaith dialogue. His latest book is Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi: Islamic Reform and Arab Revival (2015).

‘Salafism and Science: Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi’s Re-Conceptualization of ‘ilm’   Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi was among the early exponents of Islamic reformist thought and Arab Renaissance. Impressed by the cultural and political achievements of the West, he reconfigured the Islamic concept of ‘ilm by striking a new balance of reason and scientific innovation with revelation and the way of the ancestors.

Salih Yucel is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation, Charles Sturt University in Australia. He completed Master of Theology at the University of Sydney in 1996 and his Doctorate at Boston University in 2007. His doctoral research was about “the effects of prayer on Muslim patient’s well-being.

‘Rumi: The Marriage of Heart and Mind in the Service of Education’   Islamic history has witnessed numerous educators of both the heart and mind.  Rumi (1027-1273), as a great Sufi employed both rational argumentation and educational method pertaining to the heart and spirit. This paper will critically examine his educational formulas as reflected in his personal history with textual evidence drawn from his works.


Mid- and early-career Academics

Susan Scollay, PhD, FRAS, is an independent art historian and curator who specialises in the Islamic world, with a focus on the art and architecture of the Ottoman Empire. She is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and a contributing editor to the London-based journal, HALI: textiles, carpets and Islamic art.

‘ʿIlm and the ‘architecture of happiness’: the Ottoman imperial palace at Edirne/Adrianople, 1451–1877′   The fifteenth-century imperial palace at Edirne/Adrianople in Thrace had no precedent in the Ottoman realm. Illustrated manuscripts collected by the sultans point to the key role played by knowledge of literature and cultural models from elsewhere in the Islamic world in the emerging aesthetics (ʿilm al-djamal) of the House of Osman.

Faris Hajamaideen, PhD, has been teaching History and Theory of Ideas at the Singapore Polytechnic since 2002. His continuing research interest is in the study of how the measure of the human body is a pregnant potential for architectural imaginings. Faris currently heads the School of Digital Media and Information Technology at the Singapore Polytechnic.

‘Suhrawardī and the Illuminated Temple of the Human Body’   This paper seeks to study Suhrawardī’s (d. 1208) selective use of architectural imagery in explaining his Illuminationist philosophy. In this we find revealed how intimately the cosmos, the human body and architecture are linked.

S.M.Mehboobul Hassan Bukhari, PhD, is a lecturer in Philosophy in University of Karachi, Pakistan. His research interests include Critical Theory, Postcolonialism, South Asian Islam. His paper “Social Sciences in South Asian Islam: Some Lessons for the Muslim World” recently published in THuSI, Vol. 1, No. (1) pp. 54 – 61, May 2015, Jakarta, Indonesia.

‘Rethinking Islam and Science: Harmonies and Conflicts’   This study hypothesizes that the attempts of Nasr and Sardar to Islamize science has been commodified by Hardt and Negri’s ‘Empire’. Their sciences, though contrary to each other, have, I shall argue, failed to transcend Eurocentrism and imperialism. These projects appear to be reactionary against the West.

Caitilin de Bérigny, PhD, is a Lecturer in the Design Lab at The University of Sydney. Her research in interaction design seeks to engage users in urban space. Caitilin is leading the Health & Creativity Node at the Charles Perkins Centre. Caitilin has been awarded numerous grants, including an ARC Discovery 2016, she has exhibited and published widely.

‘Space and spatial thinking in Islam, the case of the Medina of Tunis’   In the global age of the 21st century, an age of technology and frenzied consumerism, originality seems to be very linked to “modern” interventions that are non-traditional leaving behind the fully charged Islamic traditions. This paper will attempt to suggest new ways of revisiting heritage based on reconceptualising Dar Lasrem. Al khayal, imagination, and al Ibda, creativity, will be the foundations linking the past and the future of Islamic dwellings.

Selen Morkoç, PhD, is a writer and critic who has taught art and architecture in Turkey and Australia. She is the author of the Ottoman Narratives on Architecture: Text, Context and Hermeneutics (2010, Academica Press). Her recent co-authored book on contemporary architecture was published by Thames & Hudson (London) in 2014.

‘Constructing Architectural Metaphors on Slippery Ground: An Interpretation of social space in the 17th century Ottoman Istanbul’   This paper is a comparative interpretation of social space as represented in two texts from 17th century Ottoman world; Katip Celebi’s Mizânü’l-Hakk and Cafer Efendi’s Risale-î Mi‘mâriyye. A reading of both texts suggest that the concept of ‘Ilm as the attainment of the knowledge of the Creator (marifetullah), empowers hierarchy both in social space and the sciences in their historical context.

Hakan Çoruh, PhD, is currently a lecturer at Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation, Charles Sturt University. He completed his PhD at ACU in 2015. His PhD research is on Modern Qur’an Exegesis: A Comparative Approach to Methods of Said Nursi and Modernist Exegesis. His main area is Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr). He teaches and writes on Qur’anic studies, classical exegesis, and contemporary approaches to the Qur’an and Islam. He gives lectures and tutorials on Islamic studies, particularly on the Qur’an and tafsir, and hadith studies.

‘Relationship Between Religion and Science in the Muslim Modernism’   This paper aims to analyse modernist exegetes Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) and Muhammad ʿAbduh’s (d. 1905) approaches to Islam and science, and ideas of Said Nursi (1877-1960) on the relationship between religion and science. This paper argues that while these scholars have a number of similarities, especially Nursi is influenced by ʿAbduh, Khan and ʿAbduh represent a modernist and reformist approach to Islam. But Nursi represents more traditional and balanced approach, and he can be situated at the middle way between classical and modern approaches.

Leyla H. Tajer obtained her PhD and Post-doctoral degree in Islamic Civilization and Sufi literature respectively from the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Her Master’s degree from the Azad University, Tehran, was in Comparative Religion. She is a researcher and book reviewer in the area of Sufi literature. She knows Arabic, Persian and English.

For paper see ‘Science of the Self as Expressed in the Snake Catcher’s Narrative: Rumi’s Mathnawi in Context’ with Prof. Amir H. Zekrgoo.

HDR Candidates

Shaha Parpia is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA), School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Adelaide, Australia. She has a Masters in the history of Islamic art and architecture from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

‘The Mughal Shikar: A Pursuit of Knowledge’   The Mughal hunt enabled emperors to assess the welfare of people, deliver justice, and gather intelligence in restive areas. It promoted textual and visual studies of flora and fauna, and hunting experiences. New hunting methods ensured success in battle. Experimental water technology aided agriculture, sustained wildlife and increased hunting opportunities.

Yasmina Raiani is a PhD student in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the legal practices and cosmologies of Saharan Sufi orders engaged in anti-colonial rebellions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

‘Navigating Empire: ‘Ilm and Ma‘rifa in the Writings of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri’   In this paper, I explore how the relationship between rational (‘aqli) knowledge, revelational-legal knowledge (al-‘ilm al-shar‘i) and ma‘rifa is framed in two texts by ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri (1808–1883): Risala ila al-Faransiyeen, and Kitab al-Mawaqif. Specifically, I ask how ‘Abd al-Qadir’s articulation of this relationship can be understood in light of his declared commitments to imperial cosmopolitanism.

Jahfar Shareef is a Phd candidate in Centre For the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, his doctoral study ‘Making of Muslim Sacred Spaces: A Study of emerging Islamic architecture in Kerala’ focusing on architectural transformations of mosques and shrines in Kerala, India.

‘Jasad-ul-Muslim’: Sailing Across ‘Duniyavu’   Illustrating with the image of a ship that appears on the wall of a mosque as well as with a poem (on the same theme as the painting) circulated among Mappila Muslims of Kerala, India; the paper exposes the pedagogical and didactic dimensions of Islamic art meant to disseminate Islamic knowledge and worldview.

Majdi Faleh, architect and Fulbright scholar, earned his Master in 2011. He practiced architecture for four years in France, Tunisia, USA, and Australia. Majdi is pursuing a PhD in architecture and philosophy at The University of Western Australia, and he is an awardee of the IPRS/APA scholarship. Majdi speaks 5 languages fluently and he is also an artist and an activist.

For paper see ‘Space and spatial thinking in Islam, the case of the Medina of Tunis’ with Dr. Caitilin de Bérigny.

Leila Alhagh is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Arts, Centre for Cultural Material Conservation of the University of Melbourne. I have a master’s degree from International Islamic University Malaysia in the field of Islamic art. I used to work as a paper conservator in the Library, Museum and Document Centre of Iranian Parliament in Tehran.

‘Artistic Analysis of Qājār Marriage Certificates: The Study of Motifs’   This research is dedicated to the study of artistic aspect of 100 Iranian marriage contracts of Qājār period. For this purpose various motifs, their symbolism and the correlation between the style of illumination and original owner’s social class were studied. The studied marriage certificates were acquired from the Iranian National Archives, the private collections presented in the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in 2000 and the online Harvard University’s collection named “Women’s Worlds in Qājār Iran”.

Suleyman Sertkaya graduated from the School of Divinity at University of Marmara, Istanbul. He pursued his MA in the Tafsīr (exegesis of the Qur’an) discipline of Islamic sciences. Currently he is continuing his PhD candidature at Australian Catholic University. His PhD dissertation is titled “Fethullah Gülen’s Approach to the Sīrah Genre (The Biography of the Prophet Muhammad)”. His major interests are Sīrah of the Prophet, Sīrah Philosophy, Exegesis of the Qur’an and Fethullah Gülen’s scholarly aspect, particularly his approaches to the Islamic disciplines.

‘The Notion of Fatānah (Prophetic Intellect) In Fethullah Gülen’s Conceptual Repository of Prophethood’   Fatānah is one of the necessary characteristics (sifāt al-wājiba) that are attributed to prophets in Islamic Theology (kalām). Although terminologically it is used as an attribute of prophets referring to their intelligence, wisdom, observant and insightful nature, contemporary Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen describes it as “prophetic logic” and the means in “overcoming intelligence with intelligence”. This paper examines Gülen’s unique approach to the notion and thus religion versus science discussions. It further discusses whether he provides any alternative understanding to this perennial debate.

Sabiha Göloğlu is a PhD candidate in History of Art at Koç University, Istanbul. She received her Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architectural History from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara. She is currently conducting research abroad with the Ilse Böhlund Hanfmann Fellowship granted by the American Research Institute in Turkey.

‘Variations on a Theme: Representing the Islamic Pilgrimage and Visitation Sites’   For centuries, the Islamic pilgrimage and visitation sites have been represented in various media with different architectural drawing techniques, compositional arrangements, and artistic attributes. This paper aims to examine nineteenth-century Ottoman variations on the same religious theme depicting architecture, urban fabric, and landscape of the Islamic holy sites.

Sadra Zekrgoo is a PhD candidate at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, University of Melbourne. His research is focused on the historical recreation, and analysis of traditional Persian Inks. He received his M.A. in Conservation of Fine Arts, specializing in paper conservation from Northumbria University, UK.

‘Peacock Ink: A Scientific Examination of The Most Prized Ink in Persia’   This paper focuses on the most celebrated ink, known as “Morakkab-e Tavousi” or “Peacock ink”, which was created and used by Persian master calligraphers, and intends to shed light on the science and wisdom behind all the different plant and mineral based materials which were used in its creation.

Javad Khajavi is an artist-researcher and a current PhD candidate at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Javad’s interdisciplinary background is in animation and engineering. His research interests are animated documentary, Experimental and Fine-art animation, Visual music, meaning-making through animation, information visualization, social semiotics, and Islamic art and aesthetics.

‘Fluid Calligraphy: the Multifaceted Evolution of Islamic Calligraphy in Time-based Media’   Recently, due to the ubiquity of screen technology, one may notice an increasing interest in using time-based media to create calligraphic art. This paper studies one of the unique possibilities that such media offer, which is to transform the function of calligraphy and unfold its meaning over time.

Artists and Curators

Hossein Valamanesch is an artists based in Adelaide. He has ben exhibited widely, both nationally and international, and is based by Greenaway Art Gallery.

He will present an illustrated talk regarding his work and its relevance to ‘ilm.

Abdul Abdullah is an artist based in Sydney who is currently undertaking a Masters (by research) at USW Art & Design. His work responds to the contemporary multicultural Australian experience with articular focus on marginalised communities. Abdullah’s work is included in the collections of GOMA, MCA, AGWA, NGA, Artbank, The Bendigo Gallery and the Campbelltown Regional Gallery. Abdullah is represented by Fehily Contemporary.

‘Using art to confront prejudice and projections of criminality directed at young Australian Muslims’   Abdul Abdullah will present two bodies of recent photographic works that examine and respond to projections of criminality directed at young Muslims in Australia since the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001. His research identifies framing devices used to contextualise Muslims and Islam in negative ways, and how these perceptions have contributed to the contemporary Australian-Muslim identity.

James Bennett is Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia His major exhibitions and catalogue publications include Crescent Moon: Islamic art and civilisation of Southeast Asia (2005), Golden Journey: Japanese art from Australian collections (2009), Beneath the Winds: Masterpieces of Southeast Asian art (2011), Realms of Wonder: Jain, Hindu and Islamic art of India (2013) and Treasure Ships: Art in the age of spices (2014). He is currently undertaking doctoral research at the University of Adelaide into the role of Indian trade textiles as a vehicle for the transmission of Islamic art motifs to Indonesia.

Title forthcoming   A view shared by many Indonesian and foreign scholars contends that the classic Javanese batik category of patterns, known as ceplok, is inspired by tawḥīd in Islam. The paper will argue that ceplok,  consisting of repeat geometric patterns typically incorporating circle and star motifs, derive from 17th-18th century imported Indian textiles. These textiles were popular  trade goods in the European dominated intra-Asian maritime commerce of the time and suggest that the modern day interpretation of the patterns is an acquired reading. The paper examines the history of ceplok patterns, as documented in the Michael Abbott AO QC collections of Indian and Indonesian textiles, and the circumstances in which they became interpreted as representations of knowledge of tawḥīd.

Nur Shkembi is a Melbourne based contemporary Muslim artist, independent curator and writer. Nur has been part of the team establishing the Islamic Museum of Australia since 2010, and until recently served as the museum’s Art Director, Exhibitions Manager and foundation Curator. She is also a member of the Museums, Cultural Heritage and Cultural Development Advisory Panel at Arts Victoria. Nur holds a Masters (First Class Honours) from the VCA & MCM, University of Melbourne and is currently a PhD candidate (prob) at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne.

‘The representation of the Australian Muslim community in the contemporary museum setting; contemporary art as a tool for interpretation’   A study of three professional Australian Muslim artists, as curated in the contemporary community museum setting, offers a look into contemporary art practice, the necessary repudiation of the traditional museum model and the potential knowledge shift this activates, both within the Muslim community and broader society.

Hamida Novakovich is a curator based in Perth currently undertaking her masters at The University of Western Australia.

She will present a talk on ‘Curating Gen YM’.