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Intellectual Debates in Islam in the New Global Era*

Library of Congress
Wednesday 27th June, 2001

Four top intellectuals from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the United States look at the intellectual debates on the role of Islam in the global arena that are dividing the Muslim world today. A number of topics are covered including: Islam and democracy, Islam and the West, and Islam and the other major world religions.

Panels and Topics (More about the speakers)

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Opening Remarks

Carolyn Brown, Assistant Librarian for Library Services, and Acting Director for Area Studies at the Library of Congress.

Critical Issues in the Debate on Islam

Prosser Gifford, Director, Office of Scholarly Programs, Chair.

Mohamed Arkoun, Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies, the Sorbonne, Paris.

Charles Butterworth
, Professor, Department of Government and Politics University of Maryland.

Interfaces of Islam and Christianity

Jaroslav Pelikan, Sterling Emeritus Professor of History at Yale University, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar, The Library of Congress.

Lamin Sanneh, D. Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity, Divinity School, Yale University.

Mary-Jane Deeb, Arab World Area Specialist, The Library of Congress, Chair.


MOHAMED ARKOUN is Emeritus Professor of Islamic studies at the Sorbonne (Paris, France); Visiting Professor at the Ismaili Studies Institute in London; and Editor of the ARABICA journal. He has been a member of the board of the Agha Khan Prize for Architecture (1995-98). He taught at the University of Lyons before moving to Paris, and establishing himself there. He has been a visiting professor in numerous institutions all over the world including in Berlin and Amsterdam, and he has taught at Princeton, UCLA, Temple University, and most recently at New York University in New York. He has lectured widely from Rabat to Cairo and Beirut, from Moscow to Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo, Bombay to Zanzibar, and Samarkand to Beijing. He has published widely, L’Islam hier-demain (1978); La pensee arabe (1979); L’humanisme Arabe au Xem siecle (1982); Essais sur la pensee Islamique (1983); L’Islam, morale et politique (1986), Lectures du Coran (1991); Islam, Europe, and the West (1996) and numerous other works. Professor Arkoun is the the recipient of a number of international awards including decorations of the Officer de la Legion d’Honneur, and Officer des Palmes Academiques.

CHARLES BUTTERWORTH is Professor of Politics and Political Philosophy in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. He holds a MA and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and a Doctorat d’Universite in Philosophy from the University of Nancy in France. He specializes in the study of medieval Islamic political philosophy, and has published widely in this field including critical editions of most of the Middle Commentaries written by Averroes on Aristotle’s logic; translations of books and treatises by Averroes, Al-Farabi and Al-Razi, as well as Maimonides. He has also written monographic analyses of the political thought of Frantz Fanon and Jean-Jaques Rousseau. He is a past president of the Societe Internationale pour l’Etude de l’Histoire de la Philosophie et la Science Arabe et Islamique. He has taught in numerous institutions including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, the Sorbonne, the University of Bordeaux, and the University of Friedrich-Alexander in Erlangen, Germany.

is presently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress. He is the Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University where he served from 1962 until his retirement in 1996. He was also Dean of the University’s Graduate School form 1973 to 1978. He held faculty positions at Valparaiso University, Concordia Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago, and was until recently Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Annenberg School of Communication. Professor Pelikan is the author of 35 books including the five volume, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. In 1990 he edited The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought; a year earlier he published Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture since 1700; and in 1885 he co-authored a major work on Comparative Work Ethics: Judeo-Christian, Islamic and Eastern. He is the past President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1946, and has since been awarded honorary degrees from 40 seminaries, colleges and universities around the world.

LAMIN SANNEH is the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity at the Divinity School of Yale University, with a concurrent appointment as Professor of History at Yale College. He is Honorary Research Professor in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He was Chairman of Yale’s Council on African Studies, and is a member of the Board of the Institute for Advanced Christian Studies, and editor-at-large of the ecumenical weekly, The Christian Century. He is a contributing editor of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, and serves on the editorial board of several academic journals and encyclopedias. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic history from the University of London, and spent several years studying Arabic and Islam including a stint in the Middle East, and work with international organizations concerned with interfaith and cross-cultural issues. He is the author of over a hundred articles on religious and historical subjects, and has written a number of books including: The Crown and the Turban: Muslims and West African Pluralism (1997); Religion and the Variety of Culture: A Study in Origin and Practice (1996); Piety and Power: Muslims and Christians in West Africa (1996); Faith and Power: Christianity and Islam in ‘Secular’ Britain (1998).

*Made possible with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation

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