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Renovatio: The Podcast
A multimedia, multi-faith publication about the ideas that shape the modern world from the first Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, Zaytuna College.
Oct 24, 2023
The Ancient Roots of Transhumanist Thinking
Lenn E. Goodman, an expert on Jewish and Islamic metaphysics, joins Esme Partridge to discuss the philosophical heritage of AI (artificial intelligence)—which he locates in the medieval and renaissance study of alchemy, which ultimately sought to create man from matter—and the implications of our rapid embrace of AI.
Mar 15, 2023
"Is a Great Books Education for Everyone" with Thomas Hibbs
"One thing that is true of [the Great Books] list is that you cannot… think that it is a unified, monolithic view of the truth. Hobbes and Machiavelli disagree vehemently with Plato, right? There's some continuity there, but Aquinas does not agree with David Hume, who is an atheist. So, at a minimum, an honest reading of that tradition is an introduction not to a monolithic unified conception of what the truth is, but to a series of important debates."—Thomas Hibbs Philosopher Thomas Hibbs and host Ubaydullah Evans explore one of the most repeated objections to the universal benefits of a liberal arts education. Recommended Read: “The Egalitarian Objection to Liberal Education,” Thomas Hibbs, Renovatio
Mar 15, 2023
"The Knowledge that Transcends the Empirical World" with Hasan Spiker
"The empirical in the traditional notion of reason is only one component in the uncovering of our knowledge. But knowledge really involves uncovering the intelligible object. So what that means is the intelligible object is not there in the empirical world—that actually means transcending the empirical world to make contact with this intelligible essence." Zaytuna lecturer Hasan Spiker identifies the true ground of objectivity in a conversation with Esme Partridge.
Mar 15, 2023
"The Decline of Morality Amidst the Celebration of the Self" with Chris Hedges
“If your ultimate concern is yourself, if you have spent your life building a monument to yourself, then in biblical terms, that’s idolatry. I think we live in an idolatrous society… I think it is extremely difficult for people to achieve a moral life without a community.” Chris Hedges speaks to Renovatio editor Safir Ahmed about what fuels our contemporary narcissism and prevents us fulfilling our moral obligations to our selves and to society. Recommended Read: “How the Cult of the Self Undermines the Rule of Law,” Chris Hedges, Renovatio
Apr 8, 2022
Sculpting the Self with Muhammad U. Faruque and Esmé Partridge
In this podcast, Muhammad U. Faruque speaks with Esme Partridge on his recently published book, Sculpting the Self: Islam, Selfhood, and Human Flourishing, which examine notions of selfhood and subjectivity before and in the modern period. Muhammad U. Faruque is Inayat Malik Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati. Esmé L. K. Partridge is a writer on Islamic thought and the dynamics between tradition and modernity in a secular age.
Mar 30, 2022
What, Other Than God, Do We Worship?
Listen and read show notes on Renovatio: https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/media/what-other-than-god-do-we-worship
Dec 10, 2021
Protection from Power with Mohammad Fadel and Lawrence Jannuzzi
Listen and read show notes on Renovatio: https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/media/protection-from-power
Nov 4, 2021
What Is the Nature of Being Alone? (Stephen A. Gregg and Asad Tarsin)
Listen and read show notes on Renovatio: https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/media/what-is-the-nature-of-being-alone
Oct 13, 2021
Why Beauty Is Not Optional with Oludamini Oggunaike and Ubaydullah Evans
What better topic for discussion than beauty, muses Oludamini Ogunnaike, a regular contributor to Renovatio and a scholar of Islam in north and west Africa. Beauty is inseparable from truth, goodness, and justice, yet reference to it is missing from many of our most important discussions on those matters. The neglect of beauty has been detrimental to communities everywhere, notes Ogunnaike; it’s often seen as superfluous, compartmentalized from other values, or reserved for the elite when, in fact, beauty remains an existential need for every human being. Ubaydullah Evans engages with Ogunnaike on the quiddity of beauty, beauty as it relates to a fuller understanding of God, and the correlation between beauty and spiritual maturity. Oludamini Ogunnaike is assistant professor of African religious thought at the University of Virginia. Ubaydullah Evans is the scholar-in-residence of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM) and an instructor with the Ta’leef Collective. For show notes, visit our website:
Aug 30, 2021
Graceful Giving and Grateful Receiving
Asad Tarsin, author of Being Muslim: A Practical Guide, speaks with Joshua Lee Harris, a specialist on the work of Thomas Aquinas, on his article for Renovatio, “The Human Arts of Graceful Giving and Grateful Receiving.” In their conversation, Harris explains how his desire to understand gratitude grew from wanting to inculcate gratefulness in his own life and also from encountering people who affirmed gratitude despite facing extreme adversity. This experience, as well as his philosophical and theological exploration of the topic, led him to approach being grateful not only as an emotion, but as a matter of cognition and attentiveness to life. He also discusses how the Roman philosopher Seneca underscores the intention of the giver as an important consideration that distinguishes generosity and gratitude from other social interactions. Tarsin and Harris exchange ideas about humility as a prerequisite for true gratefulness, Imam al-Ghazālī’s three components of gratitude, and what evolution can’t explain about gratitude. Joshua Lee Harris specializes in the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Asad Tarsin is a medical doctor and author of Being Muslim: A Practical Guide.
Aug 18, 2021
Power to the People?
In this episode, scholars Caner Dagli and Andrew March discuss theories of democracy and their relationship to modern Islamic thought, how modern Muslims grapple with democracy’s promise as well as its baggage, and whether metaphysics can (or should) be untangled from politics. (While March raises Tunisia as an example of a succeeding Muslim democracy, please note that this podcast was recorded before the suspension of parliament and the dismissal of the prime minister.)
1 hr 2 min
Jul 28, 2021
Cultivating the Life Skill of Writing
The mere act of writing for one’s self tends to reveal the fact that each one of us contains multitudes. When we write in our diaries or journals, we employ rhetorical devices even though our audience is within us. Scott Crider and Sarah Barnette—both are teachers and scholars committed to the craft of writing—discuss how conversing with one’s self through writing treats the self like the other in a useful way, giving us liberal room to persuade or represent ourselves. The end result, hopefully, is that one is transformed through the openness of the experience, having escaped from conflict or confusion into clarity. Crider and Barnette also speak about practical matters: about how to start the practice of writing, how to make use of originality, and how to lean on the good writing of others. Sarah Barnette is a scholar of English literature with an interest in Victorian literary ethics. Scott F. Crider is a professor of English at the University of Dallas, Constantin College o…
Jul 12, 2021
Are Believers a Political Tribe? (Asma T. Uddin and Caner K. Dagli)
Asma T. Uddin litigated issues of religious liberty for years, but it wasn’t until Burwell v. Hobby Lobby—the US Supreme Court case about whether the Affordable Care Act required Christian owners of a private company to offer contraception as part of their employee health coverage—that she felt thrust into an arena where religious freedom was understood through a stark political lens. In this episode, Caner K. Dagli, professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross, speaks with Uddin on the path she sees for Muslims to effect real change for themselves without succumbing to tribalism and explores her views on the increasingly antiquated and often constricting allegiances of left and right. They discuss strategic paths to change that Muslims can employ that recognize the common humanity of all Americans and develop a more dynamic engagement with the political system. Caner K. Dagli specializes in Qur’anic studies, interfaith dialogue, and philosophy. He is an associa…
Jun 5, 2021
Equality in the Ancient World with Juan Cole and Ubaydullah Evans
What kind of equality could be universal? A scan of history shows that our modern ideal of equality is more fiction than fact. In this episode, Ubaydullah Evans interviews the historian Juan Cole on his forthcoming article for Renovatio that addresses the issue of equality by examining the text and context of the Qur’an. The two discuss how equality is one of the great unquestioned values of our time, one that has always existed as an area of great concern throughout history. They talk about the Qur’an’s explicit characterization of diversity as a manifestation of God’s creative power, an affront to the dangerous human tendency to view difference as an aberration from the norm. They exchange ideas about the Qur’anic focus on the virtue of an individual and, in doing so, highlight what made for a radical notion during the time of the Arab antiquity—that a person’s worth is not tied to her group identity but rather exists as a bestowal from God. Ubaydullah Evans is the sch…
Jun 2, 2021
What Makes a Book "Great"? Fr. Francisco Nahoe and Sarah Barnette
Sarah Barnette, a scholar of Victorian literature, speaks with Fr. Francisco Nahoe on great books and the pleasure of reading. Fr. Francisco, a Roman Catholic priest and Franciscan friar, is a scholar of Renaissance literature currently teaching courses in rhetoric and philosophy at Zaytuna College. The writers Barnette reads, such as the Brontë sisters, were inspired by Renaissance works like those Fr. Francisco reads—works Barnette is less familiar with. She wonders, and asks as much of Fr. Francisco, what might be missing in her understanding of Victorian texts without a fuller grasp of the works that helped to birth that era. The two discuss what makes great books great, the joy of reading, and the “unruly and intimidating” lineage of great literature. Sarah Barnette, a frequent contributor to Renovatio, completed her PhD in English literature at the University of Oxford in 2017. Francisco Nahoe, who teaches courses in the trivium and politics at Zaytuna College, is a Roma…
May 8, 2021
From Fanaticism to Faith: Joram van Klaveren and Ubaydullah Evans
In the Netherlands, the political climate was toxic with anti-Islam bigotry when Joram van Klaveren made a name for himself as a prominent and ambitious politician. He helped to lead the Party for Freedom, with its central platform hostile to Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands. When he set out to write a book that would ground his rhetoric against Islam, he would discover that he neither knew much about Islam nor was convinced of the basic tenets of Christianity, the religion he was fighting for. As Joram pored over books to inform his own, his intentions changed from a close-minded diatribe to a man in search of God and in search of meaning. Joram van Klaveren is a former far-right Dutch politician. In the midst of writing an anti-Islam book, he became a Muslim and rededicated his book, which he would eventually title Apostate, to his search for God and subsequent conversion to Islam. Ubaydullah Evans is the scholar-in-residence of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM…
Mar 17, 2021
The Decline of Language and the Rise of Nothing: Hamza Yusuf and Thomas Hibbs
Hamza Yusuf interviews President Thomas Hibbs, former president of the University of Dallas, on the importance of rekindling a love of language so we might better articulate ourselves and possess the words to describe our experience of the world. Hamza Yusuf and Thomas Hibbs discuss, among other topics, how the silos created by our culture leave us unable to negotiate the inevitable friction that comes with living in a diverse society. For Yusuf and Hibbs, nihilism’s push toward meaninglessness and upheaval threatens our society because we lack a common transcendent standard to which we can appeal. As a result, our popular dialogue is more corrosive and less productive, and people are less sensitive to a sense of what’s missing. Hamza Yusuf is the president and cofounder of Zaytuna College. Thomas Hibbs is former president of the University of Dallas and author of Shows about Nothing.
Feb 26, 2021
Philosophy without God (David Bentley Hart and Caner Dagli)
How should religious philosophers understand the methods and goals of modern philosophy? In this episode, Caner Dagli interviews David Bentley Hart on the state of philosophy and whether the believer can be hopeful about its future. They take on the fragmentation of science, philosophy, and art and discuss the consequences of the humanities being crowded out from intellectual life in pursuit of nearsighted economic ends. Caner K. Dagli is an associate professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross. David Bentley Hart is an Orthodox Christian philosophical theologian and cultural commentator.
1 hr 4 min
Jan 21, 2021
Why Are Muslims Seen as a Race? (Khalil Abdur-Rashid and Caner Dagli)
In this episode, Caner Dagli and Khalil Abdur-Rashid explore racialization and religion, using Dagli’s article for Renovatio, “Muslims Are Not a Race,” as a point of departure to examine whether the lens of race obscures actual motivations behind Islamophobia—be they sectarianism, dehumanization caused by war, or political disputes—or helps defang them. Dagli and Abdur-Rashid seek precision and clarity on these matters, invoking foundational concepts in Islam, such as the value of intention and the centrality of justice, and bringing into focus less-examined questions around the nature of anti-Muslim bigotry and what Muslims ought to do about it. Caner K. Dagli is an associate professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross. Khalil Abdur-Rashid is the Muslim chaplain at Harvard University, an instructor of Muslim studies at Harvard Divinity School, and a public policy lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “Muslims Are Not a Race” by Caner K.…
1 hr 20 min
Sep 18, 2019
The Qur’an, the Prophet, and a Forgotten History - Juan Cole in conversation with Hamza Yusuf
Juan Cole's Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires (2018) retells the history of the prophetic period in seventh-century Arabia through the context of a brutal war between the Iranian Sassanian Empire and the Roman Empire in the Near East. In this conversation, Juan Cole and Hamza Yusuf reflect on how a new understanding of the historical period can give us sharper insights into the prophetic mission and the message of the Qur'an.
1 hr 1 min
Apr 24, 2019
Conversing with a National Treasure: Wisdom and Wit with Eva Brann
Hamza Yusuf, President of Zaytuna College, converses with Eva Brann, the sagely long time educator and author of St. Johns College in Annapolis Maryland about philosophy, wisdom, and wit.
Jul 2, 2018
The Art and Artifice of Poetry (Scott Crider & Hamza Yusuf)
Scott Crider and Hamza Yusuf discuss the art and artifice of poetry. https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/authors/scott-crider https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/authors/hamza-yusuf ____________________________________ Moon Landing – W. H. Auden It’s natural the Boys should whoop it up for so huge a phallic triumph, an adventure it would not have occurred to women to think worth while, made possible only because we like huddling in gangs and knowing the exact time: yes, our sex may in fairness hurrah the deed, although the motives that primed it were somewhat less than menschlich. A grand gesture. But what does it period? What does it osse? We were always adroiter with objects than lives, and more facile at courage than kindness: from the moment the first flint was flaked this landing was merely a matter of time. But our selves, like Adam’s, still don’t fit us exactly, modern only in this – our lack of decorum. Homer’s heroes were certainly no braver than our Trio, but more fortunate:…
1 hr 11 min
Jun 28, 2018
What Conservatism Really Means (Roger Scruton & Hamza Yusuf)
In modern educated circles, the philosophy of Conservatism doesn’t usually enjoy a good opinion. Liberalism being the default philosophy of the educated classes. The conversation we present today presents conservatism divorced from politics, as a philosophy of conserving only what is good of the past, and might challenge you to reconsider your opinion on the subject. Roger Scruton is philosopher of politics and aesthetics. He has authored more than fifty books on culture, philosophy, and religion, including A Dictionary of Political Thought and How to Be a Conservative. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Cambridge in 1972 and is currently pursuing his interest in the philosophy of music. He is a Fellow of the Humanities Research Institute and Course Director of the M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Buckingham. Hamza Yusuf is a leading proponent of classical learning in Islam. He is president of Zaytuna College, and has taught courses on Islamic jurisprud…
1 hr 1 min
Jun 4, 2018
The Secret of the Morality Tale
Renovatio's Editor Safir Ahmed sits down with Cyrus Ali Zargar for a chat about his research into the role of storytelling in Islam's ethical tradition. Cyrus Ali Zargar is an assosiate professor of religion at Augustana College who recently published a book entitled The Polished Mirror: Storytelling and the Pursuit of Virtue in Islamic Philosophy and Sufism. Cyrus Zargar wrote an article for Renovatio entitled The Secret of the Morality Tale: Sa'di on What It Means to Be Human, which explores the place of literary ethics within the broader Islamic Ethical Tradition.
Mar 30, 2018
What the Hadith Tradition Reveals About Religion in Academia
The study of Hadith is a subject which is often misunderstood. We asked Jonathan Brown to help clarify some of the most common misconceptions about the study of Hadith from different perspectives. Jonathan Brown is an American scholar of Islamic studies. He is an associate professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service where he also holds the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization. He has authored several books including Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy, Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction, and The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim. He has also published articles in the fields of Hadith, Islamic law, Salafism, Sufism, and Arabic language.
Feb 25, 2018
The Silent Theology of Islamic Art
To many, the silent theology of Islamic art can speak more profoundly and clearly than the most scholarly works, and its beauty can be more evident and persuasive than the strongest of arguments. The Qur’an is not a set of syllogisms or prosaic rational proofs but a recitation of unmatched linguistic beauty, filled with symbols, stories, metaphors, and poetic phrasing. It was the beauty in artistic expression which inspired many of the earliest conversions to Islam. Read Oludamini Ogunnaike's article about Islamic Art for Renovatio: https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/article/the-silent-theology-of-islamic-art This podcast is an audio recording of a panel called The Silent Theology of Islamic Art, with Oludamini Ogunnaike, Elinor Aishah Holland, and Abdal Latif Ian Whiteman. Oludamini Ogunnaike: https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/authors/oludamini-ogunnaike Elinor Aishah Holland: http://harmonyofline.com Ian Whiteman: https://ianwhiteman.blog
1 hr 36 min
Jan 16, 2018
Can Religion Be Studied Impartially? (Caner Dagli)
A wide ranging interview about the study of Islam with Caner Dagli. Dagli is an associate professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, specializing in Qur'anic studies, interfaith dialogue, and philosophy. An editor of The Study Quran, he was among the 138 Muslim signatories of the 2007 letter “A Common Word Between Us and You,” an appeal to Christian world leaders for peace and cooperation between Christians and Muslims.
1 hr 7 min
Jun 7, 2017
The Roots of Our Crises (Hamza Yusuf)
Hamza Yusuf at the inaugural Renovatio event on May 14th, 2017 at Zaytuna College