Activist, Islam Scholar Visits for Fall Term
September 24, 2009 – The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs has appointed Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im a senior fellow. He also will serve as a visiting professor of Arabic and Islamic studies during the fall semester.
A native of Sudan, the human rights activist and leading scholar of Islam, democracy and law examines the relevance of the Islamic tradition for contemporary thinking.
“We are delighted to have such an innovative scholar as part of our team this semester,” said Thomas Banchoff, director of the Berkley Center. “Professor An-Na’im’s knowledge and insight will deepen our interdisciplinary work on religion’s changing role in world affairs.”
Interdisciplinary Work Planned
While at Georgetown, An-Na’im will work with students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Law Center. His course, the Future of Islamic Law, focuses on the relationship between Shari’a and modern legal systems and examines some of the social and cultural implications of adherence to Shari’a among Muslims today.
As a senior fellow at the Berkley Center, he will participate in a number of events, including a conversation with anthropologist Talal Asad about Islam, human rights and the secular on Sept. 29; a conference on “Human Rights and the Defamation of Religions” on Oct. 21 at the Law Center; and a conversation on “Islam and Liberal Democracy: How Tradition Matters” on Nov. 17.
“Georgetown is a leading center for the study of transnational legal education and scholarship. We are delighted that our students have the opportunity this fall to learn from Abdullahi An-Na’im, a foremost theorist of the intersection of Islam and legal systems around the globe,” said Law Center Dean Alexander Aleinikoff.
An-Na’im is on leave from his position as the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University in Atlanta, where he is the director of the Center for International and Comparative Law and senior fellow of Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion.
He has written numerous works that include Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari’a (Harvard University Press, 2008), African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) and Toward an Islamic Reformation (Syracuse University Press,1990).
Before joining the faculty at Emory, An-Na’im served as the executive director of the African bureau of Human Rights Watch.