For three days this September 2015, the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University; the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University; and Majalis (African Muslim Heritage) co-hosted a group of researchers, journalists, government officials, and religious leaders for a conference which included, in addition to a series of academic panels and discussions, Sufi music, poetry, fine art, and food.
Conference participants examined the successes and struggles of the Senegalese Sufi model for nonviolence, tolerance, and coexistence, and discussed the lessons of Sufi leaders as a means of political and cultural resistance.
“Islam & World Peace: Perspectives from African Muslim Nonviolence Traditions” was the American component of an international partnership: panels were also held concurrently in Dakkar, Senegal, organized by the West African Research Center (WARC). On Sunday, September 13th, the two groups convened via web-conference for a dialogue in which clerics and academics responded to extremisms.
This conference, a part of the Sufi Islam in 21st Century Politics project, made possible through a grant from the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs, was organized by project leaders Mamadou Diouf and Souleymane Bachir Diagne and by Majalis President Abdoul Aziz Mbacké. The third project leader for Sufi Islam in 21st Century Politics, Katherine Pratt Ewing, has organized a conference on Sufis in Pakistan and India to be held two weeks later.
Many more photos from both the American and the Senegalese events are available at islampeaceconference.com.
You can watch the opening ceremonies for the conference, including remarks from Mamadou Diouf, Karen Barkey, and Abdoul Aziz Mbacké, as well as musical performances by Sufi singers Musa Dieng Kala and Ahmeth Diop, below. More videos, including interviews with select members of the American participants can be found at islampeaceconference.com.