Asma Sayeed is Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and Director of the Islamic Studies program at UCLA. Her primary research interests are in early and classical Muslim social history, the history of Muslim education, the intersections of law and social history, and women and gender studies. Her book, Women and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge in Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2013) analyzes Muslim women’s religious education, specifically their transmission of ḥadīth from the rise of Islam to the early Ottoman period.
She received her PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University (2005). She was previously Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Lafayette College (Easton, PA), where she taught courses in Islam and World Religions. She has published on topics related to Muslim women and their religious participation in journals such as Studia Islamica and Islamic Law and Society and has contributed a number of encyclopedia articles on women’s history in early and classical Islam. In 2010, she undertook archival research in Syria on Muslim women’s education in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods under the auspices of a Fulbright fellowship.
Her current project relates to texts and textual practices in Islamic higher education in diverse regional and historical contexts. She has thus far developed her pilot study in the context of Moroccan higher education. This fall, at Columbia’s Middle East Institute, she will conduct research on the curricula of Iranian Shi’i institutions of higher education.
Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow (Spring 2017)
Dr. Ziaka (Ph.D., University of Strasbourg, 2002) is Associate Professor of Religion and the scientific coordinator of the new UndergraduateProgram on Islamic Studies at the School of Theology of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and visiting professor at the Schools of Political Science and Education. She studied at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome, the History Department of the Royal University of Amman, and has conducted research in Iran and Oman since 2006. Dr. Ziaka was a LUCIS Fall Fellow in 2014 (Leiden University Centre for the study of Islam and Society).
Her publications include La Recherche Grecque contemporaine et l’Islam (Strasbourg 2002 / Lille, 2004); Shi‘ism. Religious and Political Dimensions in the Middle East (Thessaloniki, 2004, in Greek); Between Polemics and Dialogue: Byzantine, Post Byzantine and Contemporary Greek Literature on Islam(Thessaloniki, 2010, in Greek); Interreligious Dialogue: The Meeting of Christianity with Islam (Thessaloniki, 2010, in Greek); Early Islamic Apocalyptic and Messianic Movements: Mahdi the Eschatological Savior (Thessaloniki, 2011, in Greek); Οn Ibadism (Hildesheim/N.Y., 2014); Kalam and the Islamic Trends of Thought (Thessaloniki, 2016, in Greek).
Dr. Sara Ababneh
Carnegie Centennial Fellow (Fall 2016)
Dr. Sara Ababneh is Assistant Professor at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies. After receiving a BSc in Politics and Economics from Earlham College in Indiana and an MScEcon in International Politics from the University of Wales, Aberystywth, Dr. Ababneh earned her DPhil in Politics and International Relations from the St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford in 2010. Her dissertation topic focused on female Islamists in Hamas in occupied Palestine and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. Dr. Ababneh has conducted research on Mandate Palestine, gender and Islamism, and labor movements.
Currently, she is studying the popular Jordanian protest movement (al-Hirak al-Sha‘bi al-Urduni). While in residency at the MEI she worked on finishing the first draft of her book on the Hirak.
Dr. Abdulrahman al-Salmi
Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow (Fall 2016)
Dr. Abdulrahman al-Salmi is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Al-Tafahom (Tolerance/Understanding) and an Omani expert on ancient Islamic manuscripts. He has authored numerous books including Early Ibadi Literature; Early Ibadi Theology; and Islamic Art in Oman. Dr. al-Salmi has taught Islamic studies at the Institute of Shariah Sciences in Muscat.
Dr. al-Salmi joined us as the Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow and worked on an edition of a hitherto unpublished old commentary of the Qur’an by the prominent 5th/11th century Mu’tazili scholar, al-Hakim al-Jushami (d. 494/1100). He gave two lectures on the importance of this commentary and on the methodology he adopts for producing an authoritative edition of it. The book will be published next year in ten volumes.
Dr. Shadaab Rahemtulla
Visiting Scholar (Fall 2016)
Dr. Rahemtulla serves as Assistant Professor at the University of Jordan’s School of International Studies, where he leads courses on Islam, human rights, and qualitative research methods. An Indo-Canadian Muslim, Dr. Shadaab Rahemtulla received his doctorate in Islamic thought at the University of Oxford in 2013. Dr. Rahemtulla also holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in History from Simon Fraser University; a Master of Arts in Near and Middle East Civilizations from the University of Toronto. His book entitled Qur’an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) explores how contemporary Muslim thinkers have read and grappled with the Qur’an in the light of lived realities of marginalization, engaging questions of race, gender, class and pluralism.
Dr. Kathryn Spellman Poots
Visiting Scholar (Academic Year 2016-2017)
Dr. Kathryn Spellman Poots is Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in the United Kingdom. She earned her MSc and PhD in Politics and Sociology from Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research interests include Muslims in Europe and North America; the Iranian diaspora; transnational migration networks; and gender and religion in the Middle East and North Africa. Her publications include the monograph: Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain (Berghahn, Oxford and New York) as well as the edited volumes: The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond (Edinburgh University Press); and Ethnographies of Islam: Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices (Edinburgh University Press). She consults for organisations focusing on the rights and experiences of refugees and minority groupings, including the UNHRC (Geneva), UNESCO (Paris), UK Foreign Office, US State Department, German Foreign Office, and the London Detainee Support Group.
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