Emory Report
February 16, 2009
Volume 61, Number 20



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February 16
, 2009
A need for balance between religion, human spirit

By elaine justice

At his Distinguished Faculty Lecture on “American Secularism and American Muslims: Challenges and Prospects” during Founders Week, Abdullahi An-Na’im said he resonates with aspects of the University’s strategic plan, particularly “where courageous inquiry leads,” “race and difference” and “religion and the human spirit.”

“There is a tension between religion and the human spirit in the sense that religion signifies a drive for conformity, whereas the human spirit signifies critical inquiry,” said An-Na’im. “I’m trying to stress the need for balance between the stability that religious communities need through a higher level of conformity, and the need for critical dynamic inquiry that gives meaning to the lives of communities.”

An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law and senior fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, also took a moment to celebrate the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Barack Obama: “Americans have reaffirmed the possibility of human inclusive transformation . . . what is wonderful is that it can happen any day to any of us. We don’t have to wait for it.”

The Faculty Council is soliciting nominations for next year’s Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. Nominations will be accepted through March 1. For more information, contact Faculty Council chair-elect Kenneth Carter at kenneth.carter@emory.edu.