A biographical note
I joined Ithaca College in 1991 and am tenured in the Politics department but am at present 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 (the Netherlands). My career path, however, began in 1976 in Pakistan when I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat, a position from which I was subsequently fired on the orders of the military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, for having criticized him. I then worked briefly as the assistant editor of an opposition paper, the Muslim, before leaving for the U.S., where I eventually received political asylum. While in Pakistan, I also published poetry and short-stories.
From Pakistan, I have a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy, and an M.A. in Journalism (with honors) and, from the U.S., an M.A. and Ph.D. (with distinction) in International Studies.
Much of my scholarship focuses on different forms of violence. My Ph.D. dissertation explored the relationship between British colonialism and military rule in post- independence Pakistan (Democracy, Nationalism and Communalism: The Colonial Legacy in South Asia,1995). After I began teaching, I became interested in Muslim sexual/ textual politics, specifically, in how patriarchal interpretations of scripture are used to justify Muslim women's oppression ("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; Re- understanding Islam, 2008). More recently, I've written about the body, the internal pluralism of the Abrahamic tradition, Islamic feminism, and the U.S. project of secularizing Muslim societies. 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.
To my good fortune, my work on the Qur'an has been translated into several languages (Arabic, Bengali, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and Urdu) and I've also been invited to speak about it both in the U.S. and abroad (Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Italy, and the U.K.).