Graduate Students


dilyaraOttoman Islamic legal history
MA (2012), Islamic Law and Middle Eastern History, Columbia University
BA (2008), Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles

Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) Fellowship (2015-16)
Summer Language Study Grant, Institute of Turkish Studies (2014)

Dilyara’s interests are in Islamic legal history, specifically under the Ottomans. For her dissertation research, she plans to focus on criminal law in the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire.

For her most recent papers see the News section of our website.



Classical and modern Arabic poetry and poetics
MA (2014), Arabic and Islamic Studies, with Honors, Yale University
MA (2009), Arabic Literature, First Honors, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
BA (2004), Arabic Literature, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
“Poet of Creativity” award, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (2008)

Hatem al-Zahrani is a published poet and writer from Saudi Arabia. Upon completing his BA, he taught classical and modern Arabic literature, poetics, and literary theory for four years. Hatem’s research interests revolve around classical and modern Arabic poetry and poetics, with a special focus on the image of the poet in classical poetry. He is further interested in literary theory, cultural and cognitive poetics, the cultural and literary history of Saudi Arabia, and the reception of classical Arabic literary concepts in modern Arabic discourse.

When he joined the Arabic and Islamic Studies program, Hatem had already published two books in Arabic. Shajāʿat al-ʿaql: dirāsa fi-al-fikr al-shiʿrī wa-al-nasīj al-lughawī ʿinda al-Mutanabbī (The Courage of the Mind: A Study in the Poetic Thought and the Linguistic Texture of al-Mutanabbī), Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, Beirut, 2010, inquires whether the concept of the mind (ʿaql) can be understood as a nexus of al-Mutanabbī’s “world-view” and as affecting the structure of his poems. One of the aims of this study was to find out what transformations a concept such as “mind” could undergo when transposed into an aesthetic context such as poetry. Click here to read a review of the book. Al-yāʾu yāʾī  (The Letter Yā’ is Mine), Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, Beirut, 2010 is a poetry collection. His poems along with his op-eds have appeared in Al-Hayat newspaper, among other media outlets.

His recent talks include "When the Later Gives Birth to the Former: Word-Meaning Relation between al-Jurjānī and Saussure,” an invited talk at the NELC Roundtable at Yale University (April 3, 2014) and “A Poetry Reading Night with Hatem Alzahrani,” Yale Arabic Colloquium, Yale University (April 23, 2014).


TesneemIslamic jurisprudence
BA (2015), Arabic and Islamic Studies (minors in Religion and Early Christianity), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Scholarship in Islamic Studies (April 2015)
Robert Hayden Humanities Award, Goldstein Prize (April 2015)
Center for the Education of Women Reicker Research Grant (April 2014)
Michigan Honors Travel Grant (March 2014)
Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies Award (April 2013)

Tesneem is interested in the development of Islamic jurisprudence and its evolution based on various cultures and societies. She is also interested in the canonization of Islamic legal sources and how the level of authority of key references has varied with contemporary challenges. She is particularly looking forward to analyzing the works of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah in order to understand his methodology of law in relation to his community.



Arabic poetry and literary criticism                                        
MA (2015), Yale University
BA (2009), Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia       

Hasan Alsulami is a PhD student at the department of Arabic & Islamic studies. He received his M.A. from Yale University in 2015, and his B.A. from Umm al-Qura University in 2009 in Arabic Language & literature. His M.A. thesis dealt with the concept/theory of ‘amūd al-shi‘r  (the pillar of poetry) with a translation and annotation of al-Muwāzana bayna Abī Tammām wa-l-Buḥturī by al-Āmidī (d.370/980) from pp. (3-56). His interests lie chiefly in Arabic poetry and literary criticism (classical and modern) and the intellectual history of modern Arabic culture with a special emphasis in Saudi Arabia. Besides Arabic and English, Hasan speaks Farsi and German.


rosabelArabic and Islamic philosophy
BA, MA (2012), 1st Class with Honors, University of Cambridge

Summer FLAS Fellowship (2015)
Summer Language Study Grant, Institute of Turkish Studies (2015)
Middle Eastern Studies Dissertation Prize, University of Cambridge (2012)

Rosabel is writing her dissertation on tashkīk al-wujūd (the ambiguity of being) in Arabic philosophy where she explores the relationship between metaphysics and the philosophy of language. Her dissertation focusses on the genesis of tashkīk al-wujūd as a concept in Farabi and the Graeco-Arabic translation movement. Through this research she seeks to contextualize and further our understanding of tashkīk al-wujūd in Islamic philosophical writings of the post-classical period in which it would enjoy a renewed floresence. Additionally, Rosabel maintains a broad interest in the interactions between the falsafa tradition and Sufism, particularly the school of Ibn al-ʿArabī. For her most recent papers, see here.


RezartIslamic Law, Contemporary Islamic Thought, Ijtihad and Reform in Contemporary Islam

MA (2016), Contemporary Muslim Thought and Societies, Summa cum laude, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar
MA (2011), Interdisciplinary Studies of Religions and Cultures, Summa cum laude, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy
BA (2004), Sociology, University of Tirana

Rezart Beka received B.A. in Sociology from University of Tirana in 2004. He obtained his first M.A. (with summa cum laude) in Interdisciplinary Studies of Religions and Cultures (with specialization in Christianity) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy in 2011 and his second M.A. (with summa cum laude) in Contemporary Muslim Thought and Societies at Faculty of Islamic Studies (FIS) of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in Qatar, in 2016.  He did intensive Arabic language courses at Diwan Center for Arabic Language in Cairo, Egypt in 2007-2008 and Qatar University in 2012-2013. His areas of interest include Islamic Law, Contemporary Islamic Thought, Ijtihad and Reform in Contemporary Islam, Theology and Social Sciences in Contemporary Islam, Interfaith Dialogue, Comparative Theology, and Theology of Religions.


CynthiaUmayyad and Abbasid poetry and prose 
MA (2008), Arabic Language and Literature, American University in Cairo
BA (1998), Arabic Language and Literature and Social Anthropology, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK

Cynthia holds an MA in Arabic Language and Literature with a specialization in classical Arabic literature from the American University in Cairo (2008) and a BA in Arabic Language and Literature with Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (1998). In 2012, she began her matriculation at Georgetown. Cynthia has been a recipient of Title VI funding (2011), and her research interests include poetry and prose from the Umayyad and Abbasid periods with current emphasis on the invective of the Umayyad poet, Jarir. Cynthia also participated in the reading and translation of the modern Egyptian poet, Aml Dunqal at Intersections, a poetry reading event at Indiana University, in 2011. She has taught Arabic online since 2009 at the University of West Florida. 

Cynthia's recent talks include The 1st Millennium Network Conference on September 22, 2017 at The Catholic University where she presented a draft dissertation chapter entitled, "The Lyric Sword: An Aesthetics of Contest", MESA where she presented in both 2016 and 2017, and presenting at the March 2019 ACLA conference at Georgetown University. 

Her publications include:  “Development Anthropology: A Primary Survey” and “Preliminary Findings of a Health and Education Survey” in R.W. Dutton, J.I. Clarke and A. Battikhi (eds.), Arid Land Resources and their Management: Jordan’s Desert Margin, Kegan Paul International Ltd., London, 1998 (repr. Routledge, 2009). Now available online through Routledge. For her most recent papers, see the News section of our website.

Ali Cebeci

Photo of PhD Candidate, Ali Cebeci

   Hadith, Hadith Commentary, History of Early Islam, Companion Biography

   MA (2018), History, Istanbul Sehir University, Turkey
   BA (2016), with Highest Honors, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
   F.O. Kelsey Prize for Best Second Term Junior Paper (Spring, 2015) Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
   Intensive Ottoman-Turkish (Summer, 2014) Istanbul Sciences Institute, Turkey
   Intensive Arabic (Summer, 2013), Qasid Institute, Jordan

Ali Cebeci is interested in the formative period of the Islamic intellectual sciences. In particular, he studies the development of the hadith sciences and the role various types of hadith played in the growth of Islamic theology, jurisprudence and historiography. Additionally, he is interested in the history and historiography of early (i.e. 5th-7th century) Islam, and in particular, the portrayal of the Companions in classical Sunni historiography. He joined Georgetown University’s PhD program of Arabic & Islamic Studies in Fall, 2018.


Mohammed BushraPolitical theory, philosophy, Muslim political thought
MSc (2013), Political Theory, London School of Economics
MA (2012), Islamic Studies, University of Khartoum, Sudan

MEng (2008), with Honors, Systems Engineering, Loughborough University, UK

Mohammed’s primary research area is comparative political theory. His research interests also include modernity, Islamic law, political theology, Salafism, continental philosophy, and contemporary Muslim political thought. He holds an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science, an MA in Islamic Studies from the University of Khartoum, and an MEng. (Hons) in Systems Engineering from Loughborough University. He has been at Georgetown since 2013.

Mohammad Fakhreddine

FakhreddineClassic and Modern Arabic poetry
MA (2017), English Literature, American University of Beirut
BA (2014), English Literature, American University of Beirut

Mohammad Fakhreddine is a PhD candidate with a concentration in Arabic Literature. He earned his BA and MA in English Literature from the American University of Beirut (AUB). His Master’s Thesis focused on Modern Arabic Poetry, more specifically the stylistic and technical innovations of the Free Verse Movement in the 20th century. Mohammad’s areas of interest include Classical and Modern Arabic poetry, poetic stylistics and metrics, and Arabic language and identity.



Gender and the body, domesticity, culinary cultures
MA (2012), with Distinction, Arab Studies, Georgetown University
BA (2007), with Honors, Humanities, Yale University

American Institute for Maghrib Studies Short-Term Research Grant (2018)
Bibliographical Society of America-Pine Tree Foundation Fellowship in Culinary Bibliography (2018)
SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2016-17)
CAORC Multi-Country Research Fellowship (2016-17)
Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, American Research Center in Egypt (2015-16)
Fulbright Student Research Grant, Jordan (2012-13)

Anny's dissertation explores the domestic kitchens of Egypt and Morocco in the early to mid-twentieth century. She has lived in Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, and will defend the cuisines of them all. In her free time she cooks and translates. Her translations have been published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, Jadaliyya, and The Legal Agenda, among others. She blogs about most of the above at imiksimik: cooking with gaul.

Anny has delivered papers at several different venues, including the Middle East Studies Association, the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery (where she was the recipient of the Cherwell Prize in 2015) and the American University in Cairo. For her most recent papers see the News section of our website.

Anny Gaul gave several talks the past few months:

“Fenugreek: Seed of a Forgotten History in Modern North Africa,” Oxford Food Symposium, Oxford, UK, July 7-9, 2018. This paper explores the history of fenugreek in Egyptian and Moroccan cuisines over the longue durée, focusing specifically on how attitudes towards this important seasoning changed drastically over the course of the twentieth century.

“‘My tayta always smelled like bread:’ Oral Histories and Embodied Knowledge in the Arab World,” Mjaddarah to Fatti de Luxe: Middle East Diasporas and Food, North Carolina State University, April 5-7, 2018. This paper outlines how a methodology drawing on ethnography, material culture studies, and oral history can offer a new way of reading "kitchen histories" in the Arabic-speaking world.



Islamic law, Hadith, Qur’anic exegesis
BA (2001), Philosophy, American University in Beirut
MA (2005), Philosophy, American University of Beirut

Youssef Haddad is a PhD candidate in Islamic Studies. His research interests are in the fields of Islamic law, Hadith, and Qur’anic exegesis. Other research interests include postcolonial theory, national identity, and social movements. He has taught philosophy and cultural studies at the American University of Beirut.



Intellectual history, religious reform, gender
BA (2009), Middle East Languages and Culture, Columbia University
MSc (2011), with Distinction, Anthropology, London School of Economics

Awarded the Lucy Mair Prize for her MSc Dissertation, LSE (2011)

Marya’s interests include intellectual history, gender, and Islamic reform in the early 20th century Middle East and South Asia. Her work situates Afghanistan in the broader global transformations of the early 20th Century, examining regional solidarities and the flow of ideas beyond the framework of the nation-state. In addition to her doctoral work, she is an avid instagrammer, occasional freelancer, and organizer of the DC Palestinian Film & Arts Festival. She loves languages and reads Arabic, French, Farsi, and Urdu.

For her most recent papers, see the News section of our website.

Irene Kirchner


Islamic Jurisprudence, Contemporary Qur’an Interpretation, Hadith Studies
Magister (2014) in German Literature, Philosophy and Islamic Studies, Tübingen University, Germany

Irene obtained her Magister Artium degree (German master’s degree) in Literature, Philosophy and Islamic Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany and taught for the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) at the University of Alexandria, Egypt before she arrived at Georgetown. The dynamic between religion, law and politics has intrigued her since she first lived and worked in Egypt in 2004. She is particularly interested in contemporary pacifist Qur’an interpretation, the sharia compliancy of cryptocurrencies, and the canonization process of hadith collections. She has recently started to delve into computational analysis techniques such as Text Mining and Topic Modelling and is exploring the intersection between Islamic Studies and the Digital Humanities.

In addition to English and German, Irene reads French, Spanish, Latin, Arabic and Farsi.



Arabic music, poetry, and culture 
MA (2013), Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (Arabic), Ohio State University
BA (2011), Linguistics and Arabic, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Georgetown Graduate Teaching Assistant Award in Humanities, Arabic (2014)

Nicholas joined the PhD program in 2013. He received his MA in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (Arabic) from the Ohio State University in 2013 and his BA in Linguistics and Arabic from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011. His research interests are at the intersection of Arabic music, poetry, and culture. He has conducted research in cities throughout Egypt on the development of hip hop culture in the country. He is also interested in the use of traditional Arabic instruments in contemporary music.
He recently contributed a chapter on “Hip Hop and International Voices of Revolution: Egypt,” to the volume J. Bailey (ed.), Philosophy and Hip Hop: Ruminations on Postmodern Cultural Form, Palgrave Macmillan, NY, 2014, p. 103-117. For his most recent papers, see the News section of our website.

Karen Mcneil

Karen Mcneil

Arabic linguistics
MA (2012), Arabic Language, Literature and Linguistics, Georgetown University
BA (2000), Wellesley College

Karen's research involves the syntax of Spoken Arabic, with a specialty in Tunisian Arabic. Her master's thesis, on the aspectual use of the preposition fī, was published in 2017 as “Fī (‘in’) as a Marker of the Progressive Aspect in Tunisian Arabic” in Tunisian and Libyan Arabic Dialects (U. of Zaragoza Press). She is currently working on a related piece on the use of marked negation (specifically, nominal negation of verbal sentences) as a marker of the progressive aspect in Tunisian. In these projects, she is concerned with describing previously neglected features of the language (which are often not found in other varieties of Arabic), as well as exploring the intersection of syntax and semantics.

In addition to linguistics, Karen is involved in literary translation and lexicography. She was lead revising editor of the Oxford Arabic Dictionary (2014), and her Arabic-to-English poetry and fiction translations have been published in Banipal, World Literature Today, and Al Jadeed. She is currently working on a translation of Inaya Jaber's novel Nobody Gets Lost in Beirut.

Karen created the first large-scale corpus of Tunisian Arabic, which she has used in her own research and which is also available free to the public at For fun she likes baking, running, and coding things (like the corpus) in Python.

Personal website page

Research website



Social and political movements, Islamic legal theory
MA (2013), Conflict Resolution, Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia
PhD Candidate (2011), Islamic Jurisprudence (Usūl al-Fiqh), Islamic Seminary of Qum, Iran
MA (2009), Islamic Jurisprudence (Usūl al-Fiqh), Islamic Seminary of Qum, Iran

Rasoul is a PhD candidate in Arabic and Islamic studies. Prior to joining the department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown, he spent several years at the Islamic seminary of Qum in Iran where he earned an MA in Islamic Jurisprudence. He is interested in Islamic legal theory as well as the contemporary social and political movements in the Islamic world.

Before joining the program, Rasoul had already published several titles in the field of Islamic studies:

  • Contemporary Shia Jurisprudence: A Reader (al-Nusūs al-Fiqhīyah al-Mu‛asarah), Huzeh Khāharān Press, Qum (Iran), 2009 (in Arabic), a text book including selections from modern and contemporary thought in Shi‛a jurisprudence, that became a required textbook for graduate students in Shia women’s seminaries in Iran.
  • By Gods, In Person (Bā Khodāyān Zamīn), Astan Quds Razavi Press, Mashhad (Iran), 2009. This book analyzes the definition and rulings connected to the notion of “paying allegiance to unjust monarchs,” analyzing this subject from the perspective of Shi‛a jurisprudence and Islamic tradition.
  • Two Rakats Story (Du Raka’t Dāstān), Ketāb Āshnā Press, Tehran, 2008 (sold more than 100,000 copies). An adaptation of selected fatwas from Shi‛a jurists into 130 short stories for young adults.
Eriko Okamoto

ErikoArabic and Islamic Philosophy
BA (2016), Summa Cum Laude, Philosophy, University of Dayton

The Rev. Charles C. Bloemer, S.M., Award of Excellence in Philosophy (2015)
The Rev. Charles Polichek First Award of Excellence in Philosophy (2016)

Eriko completed her undergraduate work at University of Dayton, Ohio where she studied philosophy from the ancient times to the 21th century. After graduation, she decided to pursue her study in Arabic and Islamic philosophy at Georgetown. She is interested in the transmission and adaptation of Greek knowledge, particularly that of Aristotelian philosophy, into Arabic.

Hatice Ozturk

Hatice Ozturk

Islamic law
MA (2015), Islamic Studies, Istanbul 29 Mayis University, Turkey
BA (2013), Divinity, Ankara University, Turkey

In her master’s thesis, Shar'u man qablanā in the uṣūl al-fiqh literature of the first five centuries (AH), Hatice surveyed the works of the scholars who studied shar‘u man qablanā, starting with the first printed uṣūl al-fiqh book and ending with some of the sixth century scholars, such as Al-Ghazālī, Ibn ‘Aqīl and Al-Kalwadhānī. She examined the early scholarly debates on whether shar‘u man qablanā could be referred to as a source of Islamic law.

During her doctoral studies, she would like to study the taxonomy of the sources of law revealed in the uṣūl al-fiqh works of the late Ottoman period, more specifically in the works of Ibn ‘Abidīn. Her areas of interest include the relationship of a legal concept with its social environment, the interaction between scholars of different madhhabs, and the interrelation between religious institutions and politics.

She is a native Turkish and French speaker, and studied Arabic at several universities and language institutes in Turkey and Egypt.



Modern Arabic literature and culture, Arabic language and identity
MA (2010), Translation and Interpreting Studies (Arabic and English), University of Manchester (UK)
BA (2008), Anthropology (minor in Linguistics), American University in Cairo

Fuad is a Palestinian born in Tunis, and raised in Cairo. He was educated at the American University in Cairo and the University of Manchester, where he earned an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies. Before starting his PhD in Arabic Studies at Georgetown, he worked for five years as a translator and Arabic instructor in Cairo and Washington, DC. His interests include Arabic language and identity, contemporary Arab culture, and diglossia in modern Arabic literature.

Umar Shareef

Photo of Umar ShareefBA (2017), Political Science and Arabic, Summa cum laude with highest honors, Tufts University
Peter Belfer Award for best senior thesis written (2017)
Arabic Language, Culture, and Literature Prize (2017)

Umar Shareef is a PhD candidate in Islamic studies since 2018. He received his BA from Tufts University in 2017 and studied in Jordan for a year afterwards. His research interests center around the intellectual, cultural, and legal history of the Arabo-Islamic world during the classical period with a focus on the emergence and development of jurisprudential principles after the fifth century.