Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies Michael A. Cook has been awarded the 2019 Balzan Prize for Islamic Studies by the International Balzan Foundation, whose “aim is to promote culture, the sciences and the most meritorious initiatives in the cause of humanity, peace and fraternity among peoples throughout the world.” The citation for the award read: “For the exceptional impact of his work on several research areas in Islamic Studies most notably: the study of the origin and early history of Islamic thought, the intellectual, social and political history of Islam through the ages and the place of Islam in global history; for the outstanding quality of his scholarship in depth, temporal and geographical breadth and methodological rigour as well as the use of a comparative approach; and for the meticulous philological analysis of primary sources in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac, South Arabian, and Sanskrit.”
Previously to this honor, Cook won the 2014 Holberg Prize, "awarded annually to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology, either in one of these fields or through interdisciplinary work." He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of St Andrews (2019) and the University of Leiden (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, and in 2006 he was awarded Princeton's Behrman Award for distinguished achievement in the humanities. At Princeton's Commencement ceremonies in 2016, he received one of four President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching. 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.