Islamic Studies

Specialization Coordinator:  Kecia Ali

Students specializing in Islamic Studies study Islam’s formative, classical, and medieval interpretive tradition; modern Muslim intellectual traditions and history; or contemporary Muslim thought and practice. Students work with sources including classical Arabic texts as well as modern and contemporary writing in Arabic, Hindi/Urdu, and various Western languages.

Where appropriate, students pursue historical and ethnographic as well as textual research.

Student focus generally coincides with faculty regional expertise in the Arab world, South Asia and its diaspora, Europe, and North America. Research specializations include law, exegesis, biography, Sufism, philosophy, and modern thought as well as contemporary interpretation and practice. Crosscutting themes include gender, sectarianism, religious encounter/other, and the boundaries of religious identity.

Students work under the guidance of Kecia Ali, Diana Lobel, and Teena Purohit—as well as faculty affiliated with BU’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations. We guide students in innovative, rigorous, theoretically informed research, and train them to teach students and engage diverse audiences on a range of topics related to Islam and Muslims.

Students who intend to pursue work with Arabic texts or in South Asian languages typically have the necessary language skills prior to admission, although some may pursue additional study while enrolled to gain greater proficiency. Other language studies, including the choice of secondary and modern research languages (typically including French and/or German), will depend on the project to be pursued.

Religion Department Faculty:

  • Kecia Ali (Islamic law; women and gender; ethics; and biography)
  • Diana Lobel (Medieval and comparative religious thought)
  • Teena Purohit (South Asian religions; modern Islam; Muslim & Hindu devotional literature; and religious identity formation)

Affiliated Faculty:  Shahla Haeri (Department of Anthropology), Robert Hefner (Department of Anthropology), and Jeremy Menchik (IR/Pardee School of Global Studies)