Concerns about the relationship of Islam to liberalism have dominated Western discussion of Islam ever since the events of 9/11. Many Western democracies, often in the name of the need to preserve a liberal order, have taken steps, implicitly or explicitly, to limit the freedoms of Muslims. Part of the reason that such measures have been taken is the assumption that Islam is so thoroughly and irredeemably opposed to a liberal public order that ordinary assumptions about religious freedom should not apply to Islam or Muslims. In this lecture, Professor Fadel will try to discuss why this idea of Islamic “exceptionalism” is deeply flawed, subversive of liberalism itself, and ironically, likely to bring about the very theological dangers that such measures are intended to forestall.
Mohammad H. Fadel is Associate Professor atthe Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, which he joinedin 2006. He received a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago and his J.D. from the University of Virginia. While at the University of Virginia School of Law, he was a John M. Olin Law and Economics Scholar and Articles Development Editor of the Virginia Law Review. Prior to law school at Chicago, Dr. Fadel wrote his dissertation on legal process in medieval Islamic law. He was admitted to the Bar of New York in 2000 and practiced law with the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York, where he worked on a wide variety of corporate finance transactions and securities-related regulatory investigations. In addition, Dr. Fadel served as a law clerk to Paul V. Niemeyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and Anthony A. Alaimo of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. He has published numerous articles in Islamic legal history.