Study of Islam Section

(American Academy of Religion)





Lists of jobs beginning Fall 2007
(with application deadlines in Fall 2006)



Program for Study of Islam Section at the AAR, Fall 2006








Islam AAR listserve


Welcome to the listserv of the section for the study of Islam, American Academy of Religion.   It is a means for scholars and students of Islam to keep abreast of the latest information in the field and to communicate on topics of mutual interest. Below you will find a description of the list and its rules.

This list is not moderated, but does have a sense of community etiquette.

Therefore I recommend that you "lurk" for a few weeks to get a sense of things before making any posts to the list. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me:


The section for the study of Islam is a scholarly group within the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Its purpose is to further the academic study of the Islamic religion in all its historical and geographical variety. The purpose of islamaar, the email list of the section, is to provide a forum in which scholars may exchange ideas and information on matters pertaining to their research and teaching.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Subscribers and potential subscribers should be aware that email lists are inherently public means of communication. Subscribers should also be aware that a portion of the discussion on islamaar has to do with the internal business of the section: program planning, organizing panels, announcements, and so on.

List Rules

Participants on islamaar are expected to be familiar with, and abide by, the following rules, which are designed to maintain the focus, professional tone, and collegiality of the list.

1. Keep in mind that whenever you post to the list, you are in effect asking for time and attention from each of the almost 200 busy scholars world-wide who are subscribed. Keep your messages short, to the point, and make sure they are of some general professional interest.

2. Because this is a large list and not all subscribers know each other, please be sure that any postings contain a (brief) signature with your full name and institutional affiliation. This will also help to maintain the professional tone of the discussions.

3. When replying to a message, please check the header. If you want to reply personally to the sender, you may have to delete the address of the list to save yourself the embarrassment of publishing a personal note. Also, do not include the full text of the original message in your reply. It should normally be sufficient to retain the original subject heading. If quoting some part of the original message seems appropriate, please take the time to edit out the unnecessary portions.

4. Subscribers who post bibliographic inquiries are urged to assemble and edit the resulting references (with complete details as to publication, page numbers, etc., if at all possible) and post this list for everyone's use.

5. Please avoid posting messages with HTML or other formatting codes for specific fonts, italics, boldface, etc. Many subscribers do not have software capable of displaying such messages properly, so they appear with all kinds of strange codes and are exceedingly difficult to read. (In the tools, preferences, options, or setup menu of your email program, set message formatting to "plain text."). Please also turn off any setting that causes your email software to send two versions of your messages, one in plain text and one with HTML formatting.

6. Subscribers should not post verbatim copies of material, especially full newspaper articles, that are already available elsewhere on the Web. If you want to refer subscribers to such material, give a short summary and the full web address/URL, including the prefix "http://". Occasional exceptions to this rule will be tolerated in special circumstances, but in no case should newspaper articles or similar material be posted without the exact URL of the original source.

 Any suggestions regarding the above guidelines should be mailed to the list manager (

 New Subscriptions

 As indicated above, islamaar is a private list designed for scholars of the Islamic religion.
To subscribe to islamaar,
send a message to the list manager ( containing the information in the form below.

 Please do not apply for a subscription if you do not meet the criteria stated above.

 Please mention "islamaar Subscription" in the subject line and include as
much of the  following information as may apply:

 Full Name:
 Highest degree (please specify institution & discipline):
 Institutional affiliation:
 Title, academic rank, or student year
 AAR membership #:
 E-mail address:
 Research interests  (brief):
 Recent publications (brief):

 Note: If you find it easier, the categories above may be selected in your web
 browser, copied, and then pasted into your e-mail software to create a form.


Mission Statement for The Study of Islam Section @ the American Academy of Religion

The American Academy of Religion is the world's largest learned society and professional association of scholars and teachers in the field of religion. Through academic conferences, publications and a variety of program and membership services, the American Academy of Religion (AAR) fosters excellence in scholarship and teaching. It also aims to advance publication and scholarly communication on religion; to welcome multiple perspectives on the study of religion; to support racial, ethnic and gender diversity within the Academy; and to seek ways to contribute to the public understanding of religion.

The AAR's annual meeting is held every year in late November and provides a lively and enabling context for free inquiry, disciplined reflection and scholarly exchange on the world's religions. The Study of Islam section is one of fourteen program units of the AAR and was officially recognized in 1986. It is one of the major sections of the AAR with a long-standing and committed participation of more than a hundred active members. One of the most diverse groups in the AAR, the section's presenters, panelists, and audience represent scholars at all stages of their academic careers. The section also features regular attendance and participation of international scholars from countries including Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, and China.

The Study of Islam section serves as a forum for current research on Islam. The annual meeting of the AAR sponsors at least five sessions related to the study of Muslim faith and practice as well as additional individual presentations on Islamic topics in other program units and sessions. The cultural and linguistic diversity, the regional and historical range, and the varieties of methodologies currently used in Islamic Studies make the section's offerings rich and diverse from year to year. The themes of the sessions fall under the following categories:

1. The study of Islamic texts and scriptures;
2. The study of lived Islam in various regions and cultures;
3. Methodology and approaches to the study of Islam;
4. Issues such as gender, liberation theology, human rights;
5. Specializations within Islamic studies including Mysticism, Law, Theology, Philosophy, Shi‘ism.

Our policy is to encourage methodological sophistication, ideological diversity and inter-disciplinary discussion in our program. Shared sessions with other program units of the academy have encompassed fields such as Islamic Ethics, Gender, Islamic and Judaic Studies, and Islam and Academic Teaching, and the Study of Religion. Given the importance of scripture in Islam, the Study of Islam section regularly sets aside one session for Qur'anic Studies. The section encourages the use of inter-disciplinary discourses that bridge textual, philological, sociological and anthropological approaches to the Qur'an as well as other Islamic texts.

An additional aspect of the Study of Islam section is its outreach to the broader membership of the AAR by offering sessions concerning the teaching of Islam in the undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. Many American university programs in Religious Studies draw upon non-specialists to offer introductory courses on the Islamic world. The sessions on teaching Islam provide a forum for addressing important pedagogical issues. They also offer scholars an opportunity to deliberate on the broader conceptual categories and frameworks used in the study of religions. The Study of Islam section is thus a critical resource within the AAR for other scholars of religion who may not have Islamic experts in their departments.

The Study of Islam section also has a list-serve for its members called islamaar. (To join the list-serve, follow the directions on The list facilitates communication about scholarly topics and disseminates information about grants, employment, workshops and AAR business. Recent topics of discussion on the list have ranged from the best software for studying the Qur'an to the pros and cons of using novels in undergraduate teaching. In addition to the e-mail list, a special announcement informing members of all papers and panels with content of special interest to Islamicists is sent to the membership before the annual meeting. As the premiere international forum for the study of religions, the AAR plays a key role in influencing the way that scholars and teachers of religion in North America and abroad construct their curricula and discipline. Within this context, the Study of Islam section has a unique and important role to play in shaping the academic study of Islam. Considering its growing importance as the world's second largest faith and its social, economic and political relevance to contemporary life, the Islamic world has not received the attention it deserves in higher education. Thus, the Study of Islam section's goals are: to anchor the study of Islam centrally within the wider academic study of religions; to provide a disciplined forum for critical inquiry and high quality, original scholarship in Islamic Studies; and to encourage comparative and inter-disciplinary study of Islam and Muslim societies.

(We are deeply grateful to Dr. Tazim Kassam, Department of Religion, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA, for having formulated the above.)


News from the Study of Islam section

Links to web pages for Islamic Studies:

Link to AAR home page


AAR Study of Islam Section's Response to
the Tragedy of September 11th, 2001





History of the Study of Islam Section:

The Study of Islam Section was created in 1986. It was preceded by an Islamic Studies Group which had been established some years earlier. Frederick Denny was the first program unit chair for the newly established section (1986-88) and the late Marilyn Waldman succeeded him (1989-91). Beginning in 1992, membership of the section approved a co-chair system. Gordon Newby and Azim Nanji were co-chairs from 1992-94. Marcia Hermansen and Tazim Kassam fulfilled this responsibility for two terms ending in 2000, and Jon Brockopp and Zayn Kassam are the current co-chairs.

The purpose of the Study of Islam section is to serve as a forum for current research on Islam, the second largest of the world's faiths. It also serves as a resource for other members of the Academy who wish to address issues pertaining to Islam in teaching their courses. The cultural and linguistic diversity, the regional and historical range, and the varieties of methodologies used in the Study of Islam make our offerings rich and diverse from year to year. The work of this session falls under the following main divisions: 1) The study of Islamic texts and scriptures 2) The study of lived Islam in various regions and cultures 3) Methodological issues in approaching the study of Islam 4) Emerging issues such as gender, liberation theology, human rights, pluralism and civil societies 5) Sub-fields of Islamic studies including Mysticism, Law, Theology, Philosophy, Shi'ism 6) Comparative discussions between Islamic studies and other sections and groups within the AAR/SBL.

The Study of Islam section has become one of the most diverse groups in the AAR with presenters, panelists, and audience representing scholars at all stages of their academic careers. The section also draws regular attendance and presentations from international participants. Since the compass of the Muslim World is global, this has meant participation by scholars from Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, and East, South, Southeast and Central Asia. In this regard, we appreciate the efforts of the AAR Executive to involve international scholars in our annual program.


Suggestions for Further Readings on Islam



Links from previous Years

Positions in Islamic Studies, beginning Fall 2005

Program for Study of Islam Section
and Study of Islamic Mysticism Group, AAR 2004


Schedule of AAR Islam section for 2003 AAR

Forthcoming Conferences, events, etc.

Graduate Programs in Islamic Studies

Positions in Islamic Studies, beginning Fall 2003

AAR 2002 Study of Islam program:

2001 meeting

Program for the Study of Islam Section, 2001

Jobs in Islamic Studies, beginning 2002:

Link to Study of Islam Listserve

Members: [needs to be revised]

Centers for the study of Islam in North America [needs to be revised]



Call for Papers, AAR 2004
deadline: March 1, 2004
(submitted on-line through the OPS system at the AAR webpage.)

2004 Call for Papers

Study of Islam Section

Nelly Van Doorn-Harder, Department of Theology, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 46383-7493, USA; Omid Safi, Department of Philosophy & Religion, Colgate University, 13 Oak DR, Hamilton, NY 13346, USA;

The Study of Islam Section encourages paper proposals in all areas of Islamic studies, but successful proposals will reflect theoretical and methodological sophistication and self-awareness, as well as innovative examination of Islamic societies and texts. As in all years, we welcome submissions dealing with the Qur'an, Islamic law, Sufism, gender and sexuality constructions, engagement with modernity, and other areas of general interest.

When submitting your proposals online to the OP3 system, prearranged paper sessions (with separate abstracts for each individual paper) are generally preferable to prearranged panels. All prearranged sessions should take gender and seniority diversity into account when organizing presenters; respondents are essential. Innovative, interactive formats and multimedia presentations are welcome. Although we look forward to prearranged paper sessions in the areas outlined below, individual scholars are also encouraged to submit their proposals. This year we are especially interested in papers or panels on the following: moving beyond the "Clash of Civilizations" theory; comparisons between Judaism and Islam, especially law; the pedagogy of teaching the Qur'an (this can include topics from the classical tradition, educational approaches, teaching of the Qur'an in a specific geographical area, or trends of learning); African-American Islam; the prophet Muhammad (historical approaches, textual sources, poetry, Sufi expressions, modern developments); the creation of Muslim identity through learning processes; religions in South Asia.

Note: the distinction between "paper" sessions and panel sessions:

In general, organizers should use the paper session option; this allows you to enter separate proposals and abstracts for every individual paper, and also has a separate space to introduce the panel as a whole. Because our review process is blind, however, we especially ask that organizers pay attention to issues of diversity (ethnic, gender, age, discipline, etc.).

The "panel" option should be used much more sparingly. Examples of two successful panels in the past were our "Teaching Islam after 9/11" panel in 2002 year and the panel on W.C. Smith.  In the pre-organized panel, there is only a single proposal for the whole panel, and no space for individual paper proposals or abstracts.



This page has been created and is maintained by Omid Safi, of Colgate University.


The Study of Islam Section presents the information on this Web site as a benefit and service to people interested in the topic. The American Academy of Religion does not administer or manage this Web site and it does not reflect the policies and procedures of that organization. The American Academy of Religion accepts no responsibility for the opinions or information posted on this Website. Any problems with the content, information, opinions, or design of this venture should be directed to the administrators of the Website."


Please send all feedback, suggestions, and corrections to Omid Safi.