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Islam and Freedom of Belief - Do They Have a Prayer? March 11

March 5, 2008
n-316, 2007-08

Irshad Manji, director of New York University’s Moral Courage Project and author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, and Emory Law professor and leading Muslim scholar Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, author of the new book Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari’a, will jointly appear at NYU’s Robert. F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service on Tuesday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. The discussion and audience Q&A will take place at NYU Wagner’s Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue, Puck Building, 2nd Floor, 295 Lafayette Street (@Houston).

Professor An-Na’im, a Muslim and a native of Sudan, argues that it is antithetical to the true teachings of Islam to incorporate Shari’a, the Muslim code of religious law, into state law. To do so undermines Muslims’ spiritual calling to follow Shari’a and inhibits the continuous dialogue among Muslims of how Shari’a should be interpreted. Islam and the Secular State, which has been translated into Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, French, Persian, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu and published abroad earlier this year, will be available from Harvard University Press in late March.

Manji, an outspoken advocate of Muslim reform and moral courage, emphasizes that Islam has its own tradition of debate, dissent and reinterpretation. This tradition, known as “ijtihad,” must be renewed for the sake of human rights. Her book, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, is published in 30 countries. In Muslim countries where it is censored, Manji is reaching readers by posting free translations on her website: To date, there have been 500,000 downloads.

Manji is a visiting scholar at NYU Wagner.

  • WHO: Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Emory University Law professor and author of Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari’a; Irshad Manji, director of NYU’s Moral Courage Project, NYU Wagner Visiting Scholar, and author, The Trouble with Islam Today.
  • WHAT: Discussion about Islam, Shari’a, and freedom of belief
  • WHERE: Robert. F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at the Puck Building, (295 Lafayette Street @ E. Houston), 2nd Floor
  • WHEN: Tuesday, March 11, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Please note that space is limited. Reporters should RSVP to the contacts above. Members of the public who would like to attend can RSVP at

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Events and Traditions, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Robert Polner | (212) 998-2337

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