Graduate Students

Dilyara Agisheva

Ottoman 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.


Tesneem Alkiek

Islamic 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.

Rosabel Pauline Ansari

Arabic and Islamic philosophy and theology, intellectual history
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)
Pilkington Travel Award (2009)

Rosabel is primarily interested in theological and philosophical thought during the Ottoman period. She seeks to explore the Avicennan reception and questions of the kalam-falsafa synthesis. More broadly, Rosabel is concerned with the intellectual history of the Islamic world after the 14th century, the establishing of madrasas, and questions of patronage. This area is little understood yet necessary for gaining a more complete picture of Islamic societies on the eve of colonialism and the modern period. For her most recent papers, see the News section of our website.

Rezart Beka

Rezart Beka

Islamic 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.

Cynthia Brandenburg

Umayyad 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.

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.

Mohammed El-Sayed Bushra

Political 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.

Abdul Rahman Chamseddine

Early Islam, Qur’an, religious identity
MA (2009), History, American University of Beirut
Diplôme Universitaire (2004), Islamic-Christian Studies, Université Saint-Joseph, Beirut
BA (2004), Islamic Studies, Makassed Institute of Islamic Studies, Beirut
BA (2003), Business Management, Business and Computer University

Faculty Research Grant, “Qur’anic Terminology in Modern Public Sphere,” Georgetown SFS-Q (2014-15)
Medal of Honor for High Achievement, Makassed Institute of Islamic Studies (2004)

Abdul Rahman completed his undergraduate work, with honors, at the Makassed Institute of Islamic Studies in Beirut, where he learned to handle primary Arabic and Islamic sources in accordance with traditional Muslim practice. After completing his B.A. at Makassed, he enrolled at Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut in the Faculté des Sciences Religieuses, at the Institut d’Études Islamo-Chrétiennes, for the study of comparative religion. Here, engagement in Muslim-Christian dialogue made him reconsider his understanding of religion in general. This brought him to the History Department at the American University of Beirut to pursue his Master’s degree, where he began to read the Western literature on Islam, which had not been a major component of his earlier training.

Through teaching students of various backgrounds, Abdul Rahman has realized that he can play a crucial role in enriching cross-cultural awareness, especially in terms of religion. His familiarity with Eastern as well as Western literature on Islam, along with his undergraduate training in Muslim and Christian thought, equipped him to join the doctoral program at Georgetown. He is currently working as an Arabic Language instructor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Office in Qatar and proceeding with his doctoral research. His research is focused on Arabic terminology of early Islam and more specifically the Qur’anic terms that describe religious identities and other social groupings.

Among his most recent publications: “The Quranic Word hanif and its Explanation in the Light of the Syriac Root,” in Kozah M., Abu-Husayn, A., Al-Murikhi, S.Sh. (eds.), The Syriac Writers of Qatar in the Seventh Century, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2014, p. 71-80.

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

Anny Gaul

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

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

Anny Gaul gave several talks the past few months:

1. “‘Good Food is the Key to the Heart’: Cooking up Happiness in Semi-Colonial Egypt,” American Research Center in Egypt, October 26, 2016. This talk suggested that in early to mid twentieth century Egypt, food was a crucial dimension of the ways that the housewives of an emergent middle class were called upon to produce their family's and hence the nation's happiness. Discussing several key dishes, it traced the relationship between food and happiness as presented in cookbooks, novels, and oral histories.

2. “Fat As Congealed History: From Semna to Roux in the Egyptian Kitchen,” Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, November 24, 2016. This talk took up the concept of "fat" as both cooking ingredient and affective state. Drawing upon ethnographic research, novels, films, cookbooks, and women's magazines, I suggested that fat was a key element in articulations of 1) generational difference, 2) new paradigms of scientific authority, 3) taste and class, and 4) the sauces at the heart of differing paradigms of culinary aesthetics. A version of this talk can be read here:

3. "Tarīkh al-maṭbakh fī al-Maghrib wa-fī Miṣr," Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM), March 9, 2017. This talk was delivered (in Moroccan Arabic) to an audience of women living in the Tangier medina who participate in TALIM's educational programs, which include literacy and cooking classes as well as an ongoing lecture series (of which this talk was a part). It explored the various research methods I use to study the history of the kitchen, as well as preliminary findings about the differences in the modern food histories of Egypt and Morocco.

Youssef Haddad

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.

Nadine Hamdan

Arabic sociolinguistics
MA (2011), Arabic Language and Literature, Islamic Studies and Linguistics, Universität Bayreuth, Germany

Nadine is currently working on her PhD in Arabic Studies. Her dissertation, tentatively entitled “Construction of National Identity in Hizbullah’s Political Discourse,” explores linguistic and discursive strategies, such as indexicality and dialogicality, in Hizbullah’s political documents and speeches of its Secretary General Nasrallah in relation to the construction and negotiation of sectarian and national identity in Lebanon.

In November 2012, she presented a paper at the Middle Eastern Studies Association Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, “From “Let Me Finish” to “Eat Shit”: How a Lebanese Political Talk Show on the Conflict in Syria Went Sour,” and has several publications forthcoming. For her most recent publication, see the News section of our website.

Marya Hannun

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

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.

Pamela Klasova

 Arabic literature and adab, intellectual history
 MA (2011), Arabic Studies, Leiden University, Netherlands
 Magistr (5-year degree) (2008), Arabic Philology, History and Culture of Islamic Countries, Charles University, Prague
 Magistr (5-year degree) (2007), Dutch Philology, History and Culture of Islamic Countries, Charles University, Prague

 Pamela Klasova is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. Her dissertation examines Islamic imperial ideology-formation through a case study of al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi (d.714), the formidable Umayyad governor of Iraq. While in the study of the early Islamic empire the focus has been on Islamic conquests, she focuses on the ‘soft power’ at play and looks at the role of culture and language in the construction of imperial power. She coordinates a literary approach to later Muslim historical with the study of contemporary material culture and non-Muslim texts. Her research falls into the field of early Islamic history; yet she is approaching it from a broader perspective than usual, hoping to contribute to the attempts at bringing early Islam out of isolation onto the world stage of late antiquity. She holds a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Leiden University in the Netherlands and a Magister degree in Arabic and Dutch philology from Charles University in Prague. She has also studied Arabic and Persian language and literature at a number of universities across the Middle East and North Africa (Beirut, Damascus, Cairo, Tunis, Amman, Tehran). She is a member of the School of Abbasid Studies and the Holberg Seminar on Islamic History.

She is one of the two founders of Georgetown Graduate Association for Islamic Studies.

During the academic year 2016/2017, Pamela is a doctoral fellow at the Orient Institut in Beirut, Lebanon.

Nicholas Mangialardi

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.

Rasoul Naghavi Nia

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.

Fuad Saleh

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.

Abdallah Soufan

Classical theories of language; early Islamic intellectual history
MA (2004), Arabic Language and Literature, American University of Beirut
BA (2000), Arabic Language and Literature, American University of Beirut
BS (1996), Mathematics, American University of Beirut

Abdallah received his BS in Mathematics from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1996, and then taught Mathematics in high schools for several years before rejoining AUB for a BA and an MA in Arabic. He worked as a full-time Instructor at AUB between 2006 and 2010, teaching courses in Arabic grammar, modern Arabic literature, classical Arabic thought, Islamic theology, and modern Arab Thought I, in addition to teaching Arabic as a foreign language in the summer sessions. In September 2010, he started working on my PhD at Georgetown. Research interests include Classical Arabic theories of language (across the disciplines of Qurʾānic exegesis, theology, jurisprudence, grammar, philology, stylistics, logic, rhetoric, poetics, literary criticism, and philosophy), early Islamic intellectual history, and the formation of Arabic and Islamic disciplines.

He recently co-edited, with Abbas Hamdani, The Brethren of Purity: Epistle 48, translated by Abbas Hamdani, Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).

Richard Sutherland

Intellectual history, political philosophy, classical Islamic literature
MA (2014), First Class Honors, Arabic and Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews

Richard is interested in the intellectual history of the Islamic world, particularly the political and ideological motivation of historical writing. Richard completed his undergraduate dissertation on early Ottoman historical writing and its transformation in the 14th and 15th centuries and intends to pursue similar research topics at Georgetown. Other research interests include: the transmission of knowledge from classical antiquity into the Islamic world, political philosophy and classical Islamic literature and its origins.


M. Amine Tais

Islamic intellectual history, modern Islamic thought, Qur’anic studies
MA (2012), Comparative Religion, University of Washington, Seattle
BA (2009), Near Eastern Studies, University of Washington, Seattle

Amine is a PhD candidate in Islamic Studies (all but dissertation). His research interests include Islamic intellectual history, modern Islamic thought, and Qur'anic studies. He has presented numerous papers, including “The Battle for Western Muslims: Between Activist Projects and ‘Muslim’ Realities,” Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature (AAR/SBL), Portland, Oregon, 2012; “Beyond Reform: The Qur’an in the Works of Mohammed Arkoun and Nasr Abu Zayd,” American Academy of Religion, San Francisco, California, 2011; “Muhammad and Muslim Identity: Historical Images and Modern Challenges,” Pacific Northwest AAR/SBL, Spokane, Washington, 2011.

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

Hatem al-Zahrani

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).


Hasan Alsulami

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.