The first half-hour is devoted to a discussion of the formation of the traditional authority and “sacred history” which informs interpretations of Islamic law and the reasons for its decline in our times. Professor Jackson cites a memorable story of his visit to an Egyptian bookstore that had priced the tafseer of the Quran by Syed Qutb above that of Ibn Katheer not because Qutb is more qualified but simply because the people find it more accessible with its modern language, references, and examples.
With the rise of the modern nation-states, the traditional independent scholars of Islamic law have been marginalized and replaced with state interpretations of the law coupled with the immense rise in literacy among the masses and increased access to books has impacted and shaped the current discussion on Islam.
In the public discourse in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries, authority is often confused with and replaced by authorship. If a person can write, they are considered an authority.
The second half-hour is dedicated to which group in America has the ownership or authority to speak for Muslims, representation of Muslims in the media, and issues with the Fiqh Council of North America.
There is a feeling among Muslim Americans that the American historical and cultural experiences are discounted and overlooked by immigrant Muslims and by those overseas who claim that their interpretations are the most authentic while ignoring their own cultural and historical perspectives that have influenced their interpretations of Islamic law.
In addition to this as Tariq Nelson mentioned on his blog that many Muslim Americans feel like second-class citizens in masajid dominated by immigrants and feel a need to learn the languages, marry into, or travel to the lands of Muslims in order to authenticate or validate their own Islam since American Islam is still not seen by many to be as valid as Saudi Islam, Egyptian Islam, or Pakistani Islam.
Dr. Jackson speaks for about 45 minutes and then there is about 30 minutes of question and answers.
A must read by Dr. Jackson: Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection.
Manrilla: Authority Crisis: Who’s on First?