Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im: Islam and the Secular State

Conversations with History - Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im

Candler Professor of Law at Emory University


Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes legal philosopher Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, for a discussion of the challenges facing Muslims as they seek to reconcile tradition and modernity. Professor An-Na'im reflects on his intellectual journey: the influence of his parents and of his teacher Mahmoud Mohamed Taba. He also enumerates lessons of his own career as a scholar, advocate and activist. Professor An-Na'im discusses the importance of Islamic reform which successfully negotiates universal notions of human rights, constitutionalism, and citizenship while respecting tradition and culture. His analysis focuses on the distinction between state and society: the need for separation of Islam from the state while recognizing the ways in which Islam can inform society and politics. He also points to the problematic aspects of Islamic beliefs that emerged in particular historical contexts and must adapt to modernity and the universal values that recognize the dignity of all women and men.

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im
Publication date: 
March 9, 2010
Publication type: 
Conversations with History