Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University. He is the author of Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a (Harvard University Press, 2008); African Constitutionalism and the Contingent Role of Islam (2006); and Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil liberties, human rights and international law (1990). Islam and the Secular State was published in Indonesia as Islam dan Negara Sekular (Mizan 2007). Translations of this manuscript in Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Russian, Swahili and Turkish can be downloaded here. Read Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im's contribution to Reversal in the case of Tariq Ramadan and The naked public sphere?

Posts by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im:

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Arab and American revolutions in history

Thomas Farr, in his recent post, links the mass protests in the Arab world, combined with the persecution of Christian minorities in the region, and what he called “the Obama administration’s striking indifference to America’s statutory policy of advancing international religious freedom.” In my view, if the Obama administration is to do anything with respect to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), it should seek to repeal it and to dismantle the whole policy and institutional structure that it entails, because this statutory policy is an insult to and betrayal of victims of human rights violations throughout the world, including Christian minorities in the Arab world.

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Monday, March 1st, 2010

“Good Intentions” alone are not good enough!

As I see it, the issue with “religious freedom” is not whether it should be upheld everywhere, but how and by whom.  While I am in agreement with some of what Scott Appleby says of the Task Force Report of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, I would challenge some of the conclusions and recommendations of the report as presented by Appleby, without going into discussion of the Report itself.  The premise of my comments is that the government of the United States does have a pivotal role in upholding all human rights—not only freedom of religion—through all facets of its own foreign policy.  But it should do so as a participant in a global joint-venture, instead of assuming the “White Man’s burden” of civilizing the rest of humanity. Religious freedom can neither be advanced in isolation of other fundamental human rights nor sustained by imperial imposition.

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Thursday, July 24th, 2008

“Call it X”

I am grateful for the kind and thoughtful comments posted at The Immanent Frame about Islam and the Secular State. It is fascinating and instructive to see a text grow to have a life of its own, with some readers adding clarification and more effective communication of what one is attempting to say. Even misunderstanding is helpful in alerting an author to the risks of miscommunication, instead of assuming that people do understand what we say as we mean it. Indeed, it is the combination of the author’s purpose and the reader’s comprehension that determines what is actually communicated. It is that complex outcome unfolding over time, and not an author’s unilateral theorizing, that can make “a good theory,” for according to Kurt Lewin’s helpful insight, “there is nothing so practical as a good theory.” In this light, I offer the following reflections in the spirit of contributing to a process of collaborative theory-making. […]

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Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Misrepresenting Islam

Suggestions that Presidential candidate Barack Obama was a Muslim seemed to have subsided when his controversial pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, walked onto the stage. But even as Obama defended his Christian faith, and his choice of churches, speculation about his connection to Islam continued on-line as well as within the mainstream press, including an Op-Ed entitled “President Apostate” in The New York Times (May 12, 2008) by the military strategist and historian Edward Luttwak (and, exactly a week later, in a May 19 Christian Science Monitor Op-Ed entitled “Barack Obama–Muslim Apostate?“). Now, as if to flip the Muslim coin, Mr. Luttwak, Ms. Burki, and others speculate that Muslims will hold Mr. Obama to a higher religious standard because he does not embrace the religion of his father. […]

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