September 28, 2009
Islam, Human Rights, and the Secular: A Conversation with Talal Asad and Abdullahi An-Naim
Can one ground universal human rights in the Islamic tradition? How do secular notions of human rights-- and those derived from other religious traditions--compare with Islamic perspectives? Does the secular and democratic state pose a threat to Islam? Or might it in fact provide the best possible guarantee of the rights of Muslim citizens? Two leading Muslim scholars, Talal Asad and Abdullahi An-Naim, discussed these questions with Jose Casanova, Professor of Sociology and Senior Fellow in the Berkley Center. This event was co-sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
Talal Asad's work has redefined how we think about religion and secularity in modernity. Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate Center, he has published widely on religion and social and political theory, with a particular focus on Islam. His recent books include: Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity; On Suicide Bombing; and Genealogies of Religion: Disciplines and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Among Asad's current projects are an exploration of the origins of modern human rights discourse and a study of the transformation of religious law in 19th and 20th century Egypt.
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, where he focuses on cross-cultural human rights issues, with an emphasis on Islam. He is also a faculty member of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Emory University Center for Ethics. During the fall 2009 semester he was a Visiting Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center. He is the author of Toward an Islamic Reformation(1990), African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam (2006) and Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari‘a (2008). An-Na'im holds LL.B. degrees from the University of Khartoum and the University of Cambridge, and earned his Ph.D. in Law from the University of Edinburgh.
José Casanova is one of the world's top scholars in the sociology of religion. He is a professor at the Department of Sociology at Georgetown University, and heads the Berkley Center's Program on Globalization, Religion and the Secular. He has...