The Role of Religious Law in America: Interfaith Perspectives on Islam, Shari’ah and the U.S.
July 16, 2012
Date: Monday, July 16 Time: 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM Location: National City Christian Church
5 Thomas Circle, NW
Washington, DC 20005
American Muslims currently experience the fastest growing rate of religious discrimination in the United States. This growth is paralleled by questions about Islamic law (Shari’ah), Islamic practices and lifestyle.
What does Shari’ah mean for American Muslims, and what does it have to do with religious freedom?
How do these issues affect Christian and Jewish communities in the United States?
On July 16th, we invite you to join us for a town hall discussion on American Muslims, Shari’ah and religious freedom. During the event, three respected leaders from the country’s three largest faith traditions will speak and take questions from audience members. Participants will be encouraged to ask candid questions about Islam in the US.
Dean Robert Destro is professor of law and is director and founder of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion. He joined the faculty in 1982, and served as Interim Dean from 1999-2001. From 1983 to 1989, he served as a commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and led the commission’s discussions in the areas of discrimination on the basis of disability, national origin and religion. He served as general counsel to the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights from 1977 to 1982, and as an adjunct associate professor of law at Marquette University from 1978-1982. From 1975 to 1977, he was engaged in the private practice of law with the law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Cleveland, Ohio.
Dean Destro’s areas of specialization, scholarship and litigation include: freedom of speech and religion; discrimination on the basis of race, disability, national origin and religion; comparative constitutional law; private international law (conflict of laws); legal ethics; and bioethics. He is the director of the Law and Religion Program, and is co-author, with Michael S. Ariens, of Religious Liberty in a Pluralistic Society (Carolina Academic Press, 2d edition 2002), the leading law school textbook in the United States on the subject of religious liberty.
Dr. Azizah Y. al-Hibri, Esq. is the Founder and Chair of KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, Commissioner on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, and professor emeritus at the T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond.
Dr. al-Hibri began her career as a professor of philosophy and is the co-editor of Technology and Human Affairs, and founding editor of Hypatia: a Journal of Feminist Philosophy. She obtained her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985 and worked as a corporate law associate on Wall Street before focusing her efforts on human rights and Islamic jurisprudence.
In 1992, Dr. al-Hibri became the first Muslim woman law professor in the United States. Since then, she has written extensively on women’s issues, democracy, and human rights from an Islamic perspective. Her scholarly works have appeared in a variety of publications, including the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, the Harvard International Review, and Fordham International Law Journal. She has also contributed chapters and articles to a number of collections on legal issues, women’s rights, and Islam. Currently, Dr. al-Hibri is completing her own book on Muslim women’s rights.
In 2007, Dr. al-Hibri received the Virginia First Freedom Award from the Council forAmerica’s First Freedom. She was also the recipient of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Recognition Award from Women in Islam in 2006 and the Distinguished Educator Award from the University of Richmond in 2004.
A Fulbright Scholar, and a Fellow at the National Humanities Center, Dr. al-Hibri was also a consultant to the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Qatar and advised them on the development of Qatar’s personal status code. At the request of the State Department, Dr. al-Hibri has shared her perspective at speaking engagements throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Rabbi David Saperstein is the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. During his 30 year tenure as Director of the Center, Rabbi Saperstein has headed several national religious coalitions. He currently co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, comprised of over 50 national religious denominations and educational organizations, and serves on the boards of numerous national organizations including the NAACP and People For the American Way. In 1999, Rabbi Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom created by a unanimous vote of Congress.
Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in both First Amendment Church-State Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School.
A prolific writer and speaker, Rabbi Saperstein has appeared on a number of television news and talk shows including Nightline, Oprah, Lehrer News Hour and ABC’s Sunday Morning. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Harvard Law Review. His latest book is Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices of Our Time.