Souad T. Ali at conference in Iraq

ASU professor engages globally in Iraq

By

Roxane Barwick

Souad T. Ali, associate professor of Arabic literature and Middle East/Islamic studies in the School of International Letters and Cultures, was invited by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture to participate in a conference on “Translation as Means of Cultural Communication” this summer in Baghdad. 

Ali gave a presentation on her current translation project (from Arabic into English) of the late Egyptian reformist scholar Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq’s  seminal work on political secularism in Islam. Currently unavailable to English readers, ‘Abd al-Raziq’s  book is considered one of the most important works of modern Arab and Muslim thought, produced during the pivotal moment in world history when much of the Islamic world was undergoing the turbulent transition into the modern nation-state system and debating the relationship between Islam and the modern state.  

Given the current geo-political climate, interest in the relationship between Islam and politics is at an all-time high.

“The urgent need for an English translation of ‘Abd al-Raziq’s work becomes particularly clear when we consider the continuing political upheaval in the contemporary Muslim world and the current resurgence of Islamic ‘fundamentalism’ or Islamist ideologies,” says Ali. “This translation will be of great interest to scholars and students in the fields of Islamic studies, Middle Eastern studies, political science, global studies, history, and international relations.”

Prior to the Baghdad conference, Ali presented at conferences in Doha Qatar: “The Interfaith Dialogue Conference,” held by Qatar Foundation and “The Self and Other in the Literature of the Gulf Region,” held by the Department of Arabic Studies at Qatar Foundation in Doha.

In addition to presenting at the conferences in Baghdad and Doha Qatar, Ali was a guest on the Iraqi Civilization television program “Sabahan Iraq,” where she was interviewed by host Ashwag Al-Wasit about her impressions of Iraq and Baghdad as a first time visitor, her contributions to the translation conference and the topic, and Arabic studies courses and programs in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. 

Watch the interview here.