Meet the Scholar: Snapshots of Intellectual Journeys

Marion Katz – New York University

University Website

Dr Katz’s research interests revolve around issues of Islamic law, gender, and ritual. Her first book, Body of Text, reconstructs debates over questions of ritual purity among early Muslim legal scholars and examines the broader processes and concerns – such as gender and community boundaries — underlying them. The second, The Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, looks at the religious goals and assumptions driving the development of rituals commemorating the Prophet’s birth. It seeks to go beyond the conventional focus defined by the controversy over bida’ (religious innovations) to interpret mawlid ceremonies as coherent and powerful forms of religious expression in themselves, drawing extensively on the voluminous devotional literature associated with them. Prayer in Islamic Thought and Practice is a survey of the rules, interpretations and practices associated with salat (the five daily prayers). It seeks to address an imbalance in the secondary materials available for teaching Islam (particularly to undergraduates), which has tended to emphasize issues such as war and gender discrimination to the exclusion of topics (such as prayer) that have been central to the study and teaching of other traditions. Women in the Mosque: A History of Legal Thought and Social Practice examines the evolution of legal doctrines and argumentation regarding women’s participation in mosque-based prayer, and brings this normative material into dialogue with evidence from other kinds of sources for women’s presence and activities in mosques.