Skip over navigation

Cook Awarded 2014 Holberg Prize

Michael A. Cook, Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies, has been awarded the 2014 Holberg Prize. Established in 2003 by the Norwegian government, the Holberg Prize has been called the “Nobel Prize” for the arts, humanities, social sciences, law, and theology and recognizes outstanding scholarship in these areas. The Prize is worth 4.5 million Norwegian kroner. The award ceremony will take place in Bergen, Norway, in June.

In announcing the Prize, the Holberg Committee stated, "Michael Cook is one of today’s leading experts on the history and religious thought of Islam. He has reshaped fields that span Ottoman studies, the genesis of early Islamic polity, the history of the Wahhabiyya movement, and Islamic law, ethics, and theology. His contribution to the entire field, from Islam’s genesis to the present, displays a mastery of textual, economic, and social approaches. Along with sensitivity to the historical context, his work emphasizes the role of religious values in the formation of Islamic civilization from the mediaeval period to the present."

To read more about this significant honor, please check out the Holberg Prize web site ( and the Princeton University web page (

Previously to this honor, Cook was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Leiden in February 2013, was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2011, has been a member of the American Philosophical Society since 2001 and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2004, and won the Farabi International Award in the Humanities and Islamic Sciences (Tehran) in 2008. In 2002 he was awarded a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in 2002 ( ), and in 2006 he was awarded Princeton's Behrman Award for distinguished achievement in the humanities ( His book, Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought, won both the 2001 Middle East Studies Association Albert Hourani Book Prize, which recognizes the very best in Middle East studies scholarship, and the 2002 Kuwait British Friendship Society Book Prize. The New Cambridge History of Islam, of which Cook was the General Editor, won the 2011 American Historical Association Waldo G. Leland Prize for the “most outstanding reference tool in the field of history” published between May 1, 2006, and April 30, 2011.