Azizah al-Hibri, who was appointed by President Obama to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, will present Monmouth College’s annual Samuel M. Thompson Lecture on April 3 at 7 p.m. in the Morgan Room of Poling Hall.
Titled “Hagar on My Mind: Philosophy, Democracy and Muslim Women’s Rights,” her lecture is free and open to the public. It is also part of Monmouth College’s and the Buchanan Center for the Arts’ “Let’s Talk About it: Muslim Journeys” series, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and sponsored by the American Library Association.
al-Hibri has authored numerous book chapters, essays and law review articles on these subjects, and her work has appeared in the highly-respected Journal of Law and Religion, Harvard International Review and University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law.
A professor emerita at T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, al-Hibri holds both a J.D. and a PH.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has centered on developing an Islamic jurisprudence and body of Islamic law that are gender equitable and promote human rights and democratic governance. She is the founding editor of “Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy,” and the founder and president of the organization KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.
A native of Lebanon and the granddaughter of a sheikh, al-Hibri came to the U.S. to continue her graduate studies. The title of her lecture refers to the challenges she had to overcome in reconciling her traditional Muslim heritage with life in the modern Western world. During periods of emotional turmoil, she often found herself identifying with a cultural ancestor, the Egyptian princess Hagar, who according to tradition was twice exiled to the desert, but whose trust in God allowed her to survive and become a revered woman in the Islamic faith.
In the past 10 years, she has received the Virginia First Freedom Award from the Council for America’s First Freedom, the Dr. Betty Shabazz Recognition Award from Women in Islam and the University of Richmond’s Distinguished Educator Award. In 2001, she was named a Fulbright Scholar.
Samuel Thompson, for whom the lecture series is named, served in Monmouth’s philosophy department for 46 years. After graduating from Monmouth with a degree in English in 1924, he earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from Princeton University. Most notable among his publications were two popular textbooks: “A Modern Philosophy of Religion” and “The Nature of Philosophy.” Thompson died in 1983. His daughters, MC alumnae Jean Thompson Follett ’51 and Roberta Thompson Fassett ’56, funded the lecture series in his honor.