Islam and the Secular State

What is the proper relationship between Islamic law and the state in modern Muslim societies? In this talk, distinguished human rights activist and legal scholar Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im discussed his most recent work around this critical question, speaking in favor of secular politics from his perspective as a devout Muslim. He posited that the coercive enforcement of religious law is contrary to the basic principles of Islam, which emphasize the importance of personal conviction and free choice. Arguing against both those who seek to fuse religious and political authority and those who would completely expel religion from the public sphere, An-Na'im advocated the development of secular system that both protects human rights and is informed by the religious beliefs of its members. The Berkley Center's José Casanova introduced An-Na'im, and Daniel Brumberg of Georgetown's Government Department acted as discussant.

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