A biographical note
My career path began in Pakistan in 1976 when I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat, a position from which I was later fired for having criticized the country's military dictator, General Zia ul Haq. I then worked as the assistant editor of an opposition newspaper, the Muslim, before leaving for the U.S., where I eventually got political asylum. While in Pakistan, I also published poetry and short-stories.
I joined Ithaca College in 1991 and am tenured in the Politics department; however, since 2006, I have been the director of the CSCRE (the two are separate units). In 2008, I also held the Spinoza Chair in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Most of my scholarship is about the ideologies, epistemologies, and practices of violence. My Ph.D. dissertation examined the relationship between military dictatorships in Pakistan and the political-economy of British colonialism (Democracy, Nationalism and Communalism: The Colonial Legacy in South Asia, 1995). At Ithaca, I became interested in Muslim sexual/ textual politics and Qur'anic hermeneutics ("Believing Women" in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an, 2002). This interest then shifted to studying the interface between Islam and the West (Islam, Muslims and the U.S., 2004, and Re- understanding Islam, 2008). More recently, I've written about the Abrahamic tradition, Islamic feminism, and certain strands of secularism. Two essays on Islam and the Qur'an are forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender, and Bloomsbury Academic's Series,Textual Moments in the History of Political Thought, to be published in the U.K.
I feel fortunate that my work on the Qur'an has been translated into several languages (Arabic, Bengali, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and Urdu), and that I have been invited to speak about it both within and beyond the U.S. (Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Italy, U.K, and the Netherlands).
From Pakistan, I have a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy and an M.A. in Journalism and, from the U.S., an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Studies.