UNE Center for Global Humanities presents ‘Contesting Muhammad

Since the earliest days of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad’s life story has been told and retold by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. These hundreds of biographies have reflected the tensions between devout Muslims relying on the Quran and Western scholars relying on a wider array of sources.

The disagreements and interconnections between these biographies in their depictions of Muhammad will be the subject of an online lecture hosted by the University of New England Center for Global Humanities when Kecia Ali presents “Contesting Muhammad: Contemporary Controversies in Historical Perspective.” The lecture will take place on Monday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. and will be streamed live to the Center’s Maine, national, and global communities.

Ali will focus particularly on how depictions of Muhammad through the centuries have been shaped by evolving ideas concerning religion, sexuality, and marriage. She will argue that considering the contested images of Muhammad as a husband reveals key forces at play in contemporary thinking and serves as a corrective to simplistic depictions of a timeless clash between Islam and the West.

Ali is chair of the Religion Department at Boston University. Her research ranges from Islam’s formative period to the present and focuses on Islamic law, gender and sexuality, and religious biography. She is the author of several books including Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam, Sexual Ethics and Islam, and The Lives of Muhammad. Her latest projects include an introductory book on Women in Muslim Traditions and a study on the gender politics of academic Islamic Studies. She served a term as status committee director for the American Academy of Religion and is a past president of the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics.

This will be the sixth and final online lecture of the fall semester for the Center for Global Humanities. For more information and to watch the event, please visit:


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