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Faculty and Scholarship

Emory professor invites human rights debate through new website

Emory University School of Law |
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im
Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law with expertise in Human Rights, Islamic Law, Comparative Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, International Law, International Human Rights Law, and Law and Religion

Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, recently launched a new scholarly website/blog that takes controversial concepts from his various publications and opens them up to global public debate. Building on the work from An-Na’im’s book “Islam and the Secular State,” the Future of Sharia Blog tackles complex issues about government secularism and Sharia.

In addition to the blog calling for debates of Islam, the state, and politics in local languages of Islamic societies, the website features translations of the book in eight different Muslim languages, making the information accessible to various Islamic populations across the globe. As a website, An-Na’im suggested, this discussion of human rights can get into places that his books about the topic would never be allowed. “I’m challenging the very idea of the Islamic state,” An-Na’im said. “I’m turning the fundamentalist claim upside-down. I used to think that secularism was hostile to religion. Now, I have come to appreciate that it doesn’t have to be. In a secular state (like the United States), people have the freedom to practice their religion, and the state stays neutral.”

He deliberately campaigns against making Sharia the positive law of the state and provides people with what he calls “good, persuasive scholarship” to support that position. Through the new “Call to Debate” section on the website, An-Na’im asks for people who agree with him to offer their support through intelligent dialogue – and for people who disagree with his position to help readers understand why. He calls the effort an “educational public advocacy exercise.”

An-Na’im understands that his position is not without its critics. He welcomes them. “If someone can show me that I’m wrong, I will listen. I believe that my argument is truly Islamic. I seek out resistance. If I’m not resisted, I’m not relevant.”

Join the scholarly debate by visiting the Future of Sharia Blog »