Yohanan Friedmann, Shalem Professor of Islam, Awarded Prestigious Israel Prize
Yohanan Friedmann, The Max Schloessinger Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and member of Shalem’s Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department, will be awarded the 2016 Israel Prize for Near Eastern Studies. Friedmann, who joins fellow Shalem professors and Israel Prize laureates Asa Kasher and Ruth Gavison—for philosophy and legal research, respectively—in receiving the state’s highest honor, will officially accept the prize at a ceremony on Israel’s Independence Day, in the presence of the president of Israel, the prime minister, the speaker of the Knesset, and the chief justice of the supreme court.
Described by the Israel Prize selection committee as a “researcher who effected a revolution” in such fields as Islam in the Indian subcontinent; Islamic philosophy and law; and Islamic religious tolerance and coercion, Friedmann, who has earned an international reputation for expertise in the field, was also praised for decades of dedicated teaching, which “enriched his students’ understanding of complex, difficult sources in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu.”
Friedmann joined Shalem after an illustrious academic career, which includes his current role as the Chair of the Division of the Humanities at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and, since 2002, the editor of Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam. For his many contributions to the field, he was awarded, in 2003, the Landau Prize in the Humanities, given to an individual who has earned international recognition for the groundbreaking nature of his work.
Describing himself as both “immensely grateful for and deeply humbled by this honor,” Friedmann cautions that while the prize is granted in recognition of lifetime achievement, he has no intention of slowing down. “Research and teaching are what keeps me looking at my field through fresh, critical eyes,” he says. “So long as I am able, I plan to continue to challenge generations of Israeli students—especially the bright, ambitious students at Shalem—to engage with the sources that form the backdrop to their own history.”