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West Africa

Prof. M. Sani Umar

Prof. Umar is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Development, CDD. M. Sani Umar (Ph.D., History and Literature of Religion, Northwestern University, 1997) is a Professor at the Department of History of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Nigeria). His research interests include countering violent extremism, Islamic moments in Nigeria, Islam and Modernity, Islamic Law, Contemporary Islamic Thought and Liberalism, and Religion and Politics. His research on religious violence and peace-building has focused on understanding the religious dimensions of conflicts and the dynamics of religious pluralism and peaceful co-existence. Before joining Ahmadu Bello University in 2012, Umar was an Associate Professor at Northwestern University (Evanston U.S.A.) from 2007 to 2012. Earlier Umar taught at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin from 1995 to 1996, and Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, from 1996 to 2006. Professor Umar has served as a consultanton dveloping policy framework and action plan for countering violent extremism in Nigeria, and also on UNDP projects on countering violent extremism in Nigeria. He has received many honors and awards, including Carnegie Scholars Fellowship (2008-2009), Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2006-2007, and Global Fellow at the International Institute, University of California, Los Angeles in 2003-2004, where he conducted research on liberal tendencies in contemporary Islamic discourses. He is also currently working on Pragmatism and Pluralism in Traditional Islamic Thought, and on Islam, democratization and politics in Nigeria and West Africa. In August 2007, Dr. Umar was appointed the Director of the Institute for Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) at the Program of African Studies of Northwestern University. He is the author of Islam and Colonialism: The Intellectual Responses of Muslims of Northern Nigeria, (Brill, 2005), and numerous essays in edited volumes and the leading journals of Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, and African Studies.