Carl Ernst, a professor at UNC Chapel Hill, is a scholar of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam. He wrote a book about a 12th-century Sufi poet that is widely used in Iranian universities, and he has traveled extensively in the Middle Eastern country.
The Raleigh News and Observer reports that Ernst will accept the Farabi International Award during a ceremony in Iran on Saturday.
Recipients are chosen by the Iranian ministry of science, research and technology.
Ernst was in Iran for a conference earlier this month and said he received "an incredibly enthusiastic response" when he made a strong plea for improved academic and cultural relations between Iran and the United States.
Ernst will be honored for his 1996 book on Ruzbihan Baqli, the 12th-century poet born in what is now Iran. The book has twice been translated into Persian.
Two other US academics also will be honored: William Chittick, a religion scholar at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; and Miriam Galston, a lawyer at George Washington University.