Bannan Visitors

The Bannan Visitors program was a program designed to invite individuals to SCU to engage in issues or activities that support the Jesuit and Catholic character. While the program is no longer active, past visitors provided a rich array of resources to the University.

Islam, the State, and Human Rights: Refining the Terms of Inquiry

A Presentation by Prof. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Emory University

by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im |

In his lecture Professor An-Na'im will argue that the establishment of secular states throughout the Islamic world can best ensure universal rights as well as religious freedom for both Muslims and non-Muslims in today's globalized societies. The separation of religion and state is necessary to give individuals the liberty to discuss, critique, and challenge sharia (Islamic law). Where sharia conflicts with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights--especially with regard to the status of women and religious minorities--those portions of sharia must be amended or abrogated. Secular forms of government are best suited to allow such discussions to take place.

This lecture is co-sponsored by: the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Religious Studies Department, Arabic, Islamic, & Middle Eastern Studies Interdisciplinary Program (AIMES),  The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, The Global Studies Initiative - San Jose State University, and the University Library.

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
 He holds an LLB (Honours) University of Khartoum, Sudan, 1970; LLB (Honours) and Diploma in Criminology, University of Cambridge, England, 1973; and PhD in Law, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1976. His previous positions include Associate Professor at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, until 1985; Visiting Professor of Law at the University of California at Los Angeles, 1985-87; Ariel F. Sallows Professor of Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, 1988-91; Olof Palme Visiting Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden, 1991-92. He served as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch/Africa 1993-95, before joining the Faculty of Emory Law School in 1995.


Professor An-Na’im is the author of African Constitutionalism and the Contingent Role of Islam (2006); and Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil liberties, human rights and international law (1990) (translated into Arabic, Indonesian, Russian and Farsi). His edited publications include Human Rights under African Constitutions (2003); Islamic Family Law in a Changing World: A Global Resource Book (2002); Cultural Transformation and Human Rights in Africa (2002); The Cultural Dimensions of Human Rights in the Arab World (in Arabic, 1994); Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Quest for consensus (1992); Human Rights in Africa: Cross-cultural perspectives, with Francis M. Deng (1990). He has also published more than fifty articles and book chapters on human rights, constitutionalism, Islamic law and politics.


An-Na`im's current project, a book manuscript on the Future of Shari`a: Secularism from an Islamic Perspective, with translations in six languages of Islamic societies can be viewed at .  His previous projects, all funded by the Ford Foundation and implemented out of Emory Law School, consist of one on women’s access to, and control over, land in seven African countries (, another a global study of the theory and practice of Islamic Family Law (, and the third a fellowship program in Islam and Human Rights ( 

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