Islamic Law and Human Rights Topic of W&L Transnational Law Institute Lecture

Lexington, VA Monday, April 04, 2011

Prof. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im
On Friday, April 8, Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law School, will deliver a lecture sponsored by the Washington and Lee University Transnational Law Institute. The title of Prof. An-Na'im's lecture is "Human Rights, Universality, and Sovereignty: The Relevance and Irrelevance of Islamic Law."

The lecture will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

Prof. An-Na'im is one of the world's foremost experts on Islamic law and its intersection with international law and human rights law.  At Emory, he teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics.

In his recent book, Islam and the Secular State (Harvard University Press), Prof. An-Na'im argues that the coercive enforcement of Sharia by the state betrays the Quran's insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, Shari'a should be freed from the control of the state.

Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, Prof. An-Na'im maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce Sharia. In addition, he suggests that the very idea of an "Islamic state" is based on European ideas of state and law, and not Sharia or the Islamic tradition.

Prof. An-Na'im  received an LL.B. from the University of Khartoum, an  LL.B. and diploma in Criminology from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland).

The Transnational Law Institute, directed by Professor Mark Drumbl, was established in 2006 to support and coordinate teaching innovations, externships, internships, a speaker series and visiting faculty to help prepare students for the increasing globalization of legal practice. Learn more at

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