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Apr. 20,  2009

Islamic Law Expert An-Na'im Named 2009 Carnegie Scholar

News Article ImageAbdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im

Human rights scholar/activist Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im of Emory University School of Law has been named a 2009 Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

An-Na'im, an internationally recognized expert on Islamic law and international human rights, was selected for his compelling ideas and commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialogue on Islam. His project, "Enhancing Citizenship: American Muslims and American Secularism," will investigate the underpinnings of American secularism as the basis for encouraging American Muslims to participate more actively in civic life.

An-Na'im will explore these issues with American Muslim leaders and activists, civil society organizations, scholars, the media and the broader public. The resulting book, he says, along with outreach activities, has the potential to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together in recognition of their shared American values, as well as building mutual respect for their differences.

"This project is what I call, ‘scholarship for social change,' and it's also personal for my family and grandchildren," says An-Na'im. "I am grateful to Emory for making this award possible."

An-Na'im, who serves as the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory, is one of 24 well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts and writers who will receive two-year grants of up to $100,000. The 2009 awardees are the fifth class to focus on Islam, bringing the number of Carnegie Scholars devoted to the topic to 117 since the program began in 2000. 

"We are cultivating a diverse scholarly community spanning a range of disciplines with the expectation that their voices will help Americans develop a more complex understanding of Muslim societies here and throughout the world, revealing Islam's rich diversity," Carnegie Corp. President Vartan Gregorian says. "Only through vibrant dialogue, guided by bold and nuanced scholarship, can we move public thinking into new territory."

The program allows independent-minded thinkers to pursue original projects oriented toward catalyzing intellectual discourse and guiding more focused and pragmatic policy discussions.

Each year, more than 500 nominators representing a broad range of disciplines and institutions, including academia, research institutes, nonprofit organizations, the media and foundations, are asked to identify original thinkers who have the ability—or promise—to spark academic and public debate, and whose work transcends academic boundaries.

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