Legal commentary on the lawsuit Yacovelli v. Moeser, filed in 2002 against UNC Chapel Hill over its academic orientation program requiring freshmen to read selected passages from the Qur’an. Includes review of Sell's Approaching the Qur'an.
The Constitutionality of Teaching Islam:
The University of North Carolina Qur’an Controversy
published in Observing the Observer: The State of Islamic Studies in American Universities, ed. Mumtaz Ahmad, pages 137-177 Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2012-07
Abstract: This article is a legal commentary on the lawsuit Yacovelli v. Moeser, filed in 2002 (in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks) by a conservative Christian organization, against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, over its academic orientation program, requiring incoming UNC freshmen to read and discuss selected, translated passages from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. As a perspective on the academic and legal rationale for teaching the Qur’an in public universities (without violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution), this article provides a brief introduction to the Qur’an, its world-historical significance, history of its revelation, collection, and editing, its salient themes, as well as academic vs. traditional approaches to the study of the Qur’an. This is followed by a review of Michael Sells’s Approaching the Qur’an, legal analysis of Yacovelli v. Moeser, highlights of parallel cases, and conclusion.