Nebil Husayn of the University of Miami visited CU Boulder from 9/15/22 to 9/16/22 to deliver three talks on a wide range of subjects. In his first talk, titled “Rehabilitating Ali: Historiography and the Tools of Orthodoxy,” Husayn deconstructed the nearly universal portrayal of Ali ibn Abi Talib in Muslim literature as a pious authority by examining the views of his opponents and the identifying the methods that were used to rehabilitate his character over several centuries. This talk, which was based on his recently published book Opposing the Imam: The Legacy of the Nawāṣib in Islamic Literature, was attended by 69 people, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and the general public.
In his second talk, titled “The Demonization of Malcolm X and the Sanitization of Dr. Martin Luther King,” Husayn challenged the popular depiction of these two icons as rivals. He argued that both MLK and Malcolm X represented a radical Black tradition of political action that was subversive to American exceptionalism. This talk was attended by 10 people, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and the general public.
In his third talk, titled “Skepticism for the Supernatural: Modernist Readings of Miracles in the Bible and the Quran,” Husayn surveyed the writings of South Asian Muslim Modernists who sought to reinterpret accounts of miracles that are attributed to Israelite prophets in the Quran. This talk was attended by 5 people, including graduate students and faculty members.
While Husayn spoke on a diverse set of topics, each presentation touched on a common theme, namely: the construction of myths to vindicate political ideologies.