April 14, 2009 11:06 Age: 5 yrs

An-Na'im Named 2009 Carnegie Scholar

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Emory Law’s Howard Candler Professor of Law, has been named a 2009 Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

An-Na’im was selected for his compelling ideas and commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialogue on Islam. A description of his project, “Enhancing Citizenship: American Muslims and American Secularism,” appears below.

“This project is what I call, ‘scholarship for social change,’ and it’s also personal for my family and grandchildren,” An-Na’im said. “I am grateful to Emory, especially Anita Mann, Glenn Kellum and Karla Riker, for making this award possible.”

An-Na’im 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 said. “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.

Project Description
Title: Enhancing Citizenship: American Muslims and American Secularism
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, a legal scholar, will investigate the theoretical and practical underpinnings of American secularism as the basis for encouraging American Muslims to participate more actively in civic life.

An-Na’im will present this as a framework for addressing issues of concern to American Muslims including education, family relations, foreign policy and social and economic advancement.

To build a case for this deeper engagement and to demonstrate that Muslims are equal partners in the negotiation and adaptation of American secularism, he will clarify how secularism ensures respect and protection of Muslims’ fundamental rights.  An-Na’im will explore these dimensions with American Muslim leaders and activists, civil society organizations, scholars, the media and the broader public.

An-Na’im will prepare scholarly background papers, hold workshops and discussion groups, conduct interviews and engage in outreach via his project website and blog.  The resulting book, along with the outreach activities, has the potential to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together in common recognition of their shared American values, as well as building mutual respect for their differences.

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