Converted to Shia Islam – Abd al Hakim Carney


Seth L. (Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hakeem) Carney¬†was once the highest ranking American-born Shiite scholar. He was a committed academic having converted from Christianity to Sunni Islam in his teenage years and then to Shiism. He has published many academic papers and articles on different topics in the Shia faith – he was deeply loved. Unfortunately, he passed away due in his home in 2007, and the cause of death has not been confirmed.

Seth L Carney, native of Providence, Rhode Island, known as Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hakeem Carney in his Shia Muslim community of Dearborn, Michigan died on July 8, 2007 at the age of 28. He was a popular member of the Near and Middle Eastern Studies Department at Wayne State University in Detroit and as a member of the Shia Islamic clergy he had achieved the highest rank of any American born member of the ulama.

Seth attended Moses Brown School and Classical High School in Providence, but began his college education at the age of 15 at Simon’s Rock College of Bard, transferred to Providence College in Rhode Island, where he earned his BA. in 1999. He converted to Islam at sixteen, and continued his study of Islam and the Arabic language throughout his life. He earned an MA in Islamic Societies and Cultures at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and had submitted his PhD candidate dissertation in Islamic Studies on early Shi’ite hadith literature shortly before he died.

He studied the Arabic language in Egypt and in London, and completed his studies in the Shi’ite hawzah with scholars in London, completing the levels of muqaddimah, sutuh, as well as studying dars al-kharij, the highest level of study in the Shi’ite hawzah. He was entered into the Shi’ite clergy by Ayatullah Bahr al-Ulum in London in 2001. He published in the Keston Journal of Religion, Society, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Yearbook, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion; Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, the Journal for Islamic Studies. He translated the work of ‘Mantiq al-Muzhafr’, an important introductory text on formal logic that is used in the Shi’ite seminary. He was the Editor of a number of websites dealing with Islamic theology including and He also wrote a large number of Islamic hymns and poetry.

He taught philosophy and logic at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies in London, Islamic, Religious Studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and was on the faculty of Wayne State University when he died.

Known as Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hakeem, he spoke at Islamic Centers throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Imam Khu’i Centre in London and New York, the Islamic Centre of America in Dearborn, Michigan, the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, the Grand Mosque of Parma outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and many other smaller centers throughout the United States and the UK. He was particularly popular among young Islamic audiences.

He is survived by his parents Larry S. Carney, Lecturer at Rhode Island School of Design and Charlotte G. O’Kelly, Professor at Providence College, his sister Robin Carney MacMurray of Atlanta and his brother Adam Carney of Baton Rouge and grandparents Hellen and Charlie Anderson of Fallston, N.C. His paternal grandparents were the late Horace and Dorothy Carney of Elmer, N.J.

The funeral services were held at the Islamic Center of America on July 11 with internment at the United Memorial Gardens in Plymouth Michigan. Additional memorial services have been held at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, in London, and at Wayne State in Detroit.