Khaled Abou El Fadl

Khaled Abou el Fadl

Khaled Abou el Fadl
Born 1963
Academic work
Main interests Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Islamic scholar

Khaled Abou el Fadl (Arabic: خالد أبو الفضل, IPA: [ˈxæːled abolˈfɑdl]) (born 1963 in Kuwait) is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law where he has taught courses on International Human Rights, Islamic jurisprudence, National Security Law, Law and Terrorism, Islam and Human Rights, Political Asylum, and Political Crimes and Legal Systems. He is also the Chair of the Islamic Studies Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.[1] He has lectured on and taught Islamic law in the United States and Europe in academic and non-academic environments since approximately 1990.

Abou El Fadl is the author of numerous books and articles on topics in Islam and Islamic law. He has appeared on national and international television and radio, and published in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Review. His work has been translated into several languages including Arabic, Persian, French, Norwegian, Dutch, Russian, Vietnamese and Japanese.


Abou El Fadl holds a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Islamic law from Princeton University. Abou El Fadl also has 13 years of instruction in Islamic jurisprudence, grammar and eloquence in Egypt and Kuwait. After law school, he clerked for Arizona Supreme Court Justice James Moeller, and practiced immigration and investment law in the U.S. and the Middle East. He previously taught Islamic law at the University of Texas School of Law at Austin, Yale Law School and Princeton University.[2]


Abou El Fadl believes that the usuli tradition "naturally leads Islam" to an ethical humanism, or a set of ideas about justice and beauty that help to achieve God's will.[3] He has criticized puritanical and Wahhabi Islam[4] for among other things its disinterest in morality, which the Wahhabis argue "shouldn't affect the implementation of Koranic law."[3]

Abou El Fadl has described the terrorism of 9/11 attacks as the logical conclusion of "a puritanical and ethically oblivious form of Islam [that] has predominated since the 1970s." Promoted by religious authorities in Saudi Arabia and other countries, including the U.S. and Europe. He supports religious and cultural pluralism, democratic values and women’s rights.[5]

He would like to return to the "Golden Age of Islam where "numerous traditions" emphasized the "pursuit of knowledge is an act of permanent worship", and to abandon the current state of affairs where "rampant apologetics" of Muslim thinkers has "produced a culture that eschews self-critical and introspective insight and embraces projection of blame and a fantasy-like level of confidence and arrogance."[3]

Awards and appointments

Abou el Fadl was awarded the University of Oslo Human Rights Award, the Leo and Lisl Eitinger Prize in 2007,[6] and named a Carnegie Scholar in Islamic Law in 2005.

He has served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch. He continues to serve on the Advisory Board of Middle East Watch (part of Human Rights Watch) and works with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (Human Rights First) in cases involving human rights, terrorism, political asylum, and international and commercial law. In 2005, he was listed as one of LawDragon’s Top 500 Lawyers in the Nation. He has been listed in the Arabian Business Power 500 List of the World's Most Influential Arabs (2011, 2012).[7]

He is the founding Advisory Board Member of the UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law (JINEL), and an Editorial Board Member for Political Theology, the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Islamic Law and Society, the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, and Hawa: Journal of Women of Middle East and the Islamic World. He also serves as an Advisory Board member for the University of Adelaide Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion (RUSSLR) in Australia; the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Islam Initiative Publications Project; the Harvard Press Series on Islamic Law; and the Journal of Islamic Studies (Islamabad).


His recent works focus on authority, human rights, democracy and beauty in Islam and Islamic law. His book, The Great Theft, delineated key differences between moderate and extremist Muslims, and was named one of the Top 100 Books of the year by Canada’s Globe and Mail.


Selected academic articles



  1. UCLA Center for Near East Studies: Faculty
  2. UCLA School of Law Faculty Profile: Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl
  3. 1 2 3 "Moral Hazard" by Franklin Foer| The New Republic| 18 November 2002
  4. The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists (Harper San Francisco, 2005)
  5. Campo, Juan Eduardo (editor) (2009) "Abou El Fadl, Khaled" Encyclopedia of Islam Facts On File, New York, page 8, ISBN 978-0-8160-5454-1
  6. Previous winners of The University of Oslo's Human Rights Award UiO, University of Oslo
  7. Arabian Business Power 500 List of the World's Most Influential Arabs (2011, 2012)
  8. The Language of the Age by Khaled Abou El Fadl| Harvard International Law Journal| April 25, 201
  9. "Fascism Triumphant?"| Political Theology Journal (2009)| Khaled Abou El Fadl.
  10. "The Crusader" Boston Review 28, no. 2 (March/April 2006)
  11. "Speaking, Killing and Loving in God’s Name" "Speaking, Killing and Loving in God’s Name"
  12. "The Death Penalty, Mercy and Islam: A Call for Retrospection"
  13. "The Modern Ugly and the Ugly Modern: Reclaiming the Beautiful in Islam"
  14. "The Orphans of Modernity and the Clash of Civilisations"
  15. "Peaceful Jihad" in: Taking Back Islam (edited by Michael Wolfe. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 2002.
  16. "Islam and the Challenge of Democracy", Boston Review 28, no. 2 (April/May 2003)
  17. "Islam and Tolerance: Abou El Fadl Replies", Boston Review 27, no. 1 (February/March 2002):
  18. "The Place of Tolerance in Islam", Boston Review 26, no. 6 (December 2001/January 2002)
  19. "Islam and the Theology of Power", Middle East Report 221 (Winter 2001)
  20. "What Became of Tolerance in Islam" in: Beauty for Ashes
  21. "The Tragedy of Great Power: The Massacre of Gaza and the Inevitable Failure of the Arab Spring", Australian Broadcasting Corporation (August 2014)
  22. "Why the West Stays Silent: The Disquieting Case of Khaled al-Qazzaz", Australian Broadcasting Corporation (July 2014)
  23. "Who's Afraid of the Islamists? From Attaturk to al-Sisi, from John Dewey to Fox News", Australian Broadcasting Corporation (May 2014)
  24. A State of Grace: Defending Human Rights against Terrorism and Secular Nationalism| Australian Broadcasting Corporation (January 2014)
  25. Dominating religion in Egypt's pseudo-secular state (September 2013)
  26. "Egypt, wake up and smell the money", Australian Broadcasting Corporation (September 2013)
  27. "Egypt in the Twilight Zone", Huffington Post (September 2013)
  28. "I Mourn Egypt", Huffington Post (July 2013)
  29. "The collapse of legitimacy: How Egypt's secular intelligentsia betrayed the revolution", Australian Broadcasting Corporation (July 2013)
  30. "Egypt: Is political Islam dead?" Al-Jazeera (July 2013)
  31. "The Perils of a ‘People’s Coup'" New York Times (July 2013)
  32. "Did the military really save Egypt?" Australian Broadcasting Corporation (July 2013)
  33. "Renewing Islam in these Dark Ages", Australian Broadcasting Corporation (August 2011)
  34. "Islam and Vulgarity in the Modern Age", Australian Broadcasting Company 2011/06/01
  35. "The Emergence of Supremacist Puritanism in Modern Islam", Australian Broadcasting Company
  36. "Which Clash? What Civilizations?", Australian Broadcasting Company 2011/05/16
  37. "The Culture of Ugliness in Modern Islam", Australian Broadcasting Company
  38. "What is Shari'a", Australian Broadcasting Company 2011/03/22
  39. "The Narcissistic Delusions of Hosni Mubarak", Australian Broadcasting Company| 2011/03/10
  40. "The Nature of Law and Morality", Policy Research Center, Islamic Foundation, Islamic Society of Britain
  41. "More of the Same: Obama in Cairo", Political Theology Online
  42. "Obama in Cairo" Commentary, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, June 4, 2009
  43. "What Became of Tolerance in Islam?" Editorial, Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2001.

External links

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