Personal profile

Research Interests

Islamic thought and practice, Muslim sects, medieval and contemporary Islamic thought and movements, Sufism, Islamic gender ideology, Muslim women’s religious lives, Islam in Oman, Yemen, Egypt and East Africa

Professional Information

Current Research Project: Islamic Sectarianism Reconsidered: Ibadi Islam in the Modern Age

Personal profile

I am a specialist in Islamic thought and practice. I have worked on many aspects of Islam, from the time of the Prophet to the contemporary period; I have conducted textual studies and have done fieldwork. I did two major fieldwork projects in Egypt, one on Muslim women's religious lives in contemporary Egypt (1980-81) and another on Sufism in modern Egypt (1987-89). Then I studied Swahili and spent two summers in Zanzibar, where I became aware that two distinct strands of Arabian Islam had impacted the Swahili coast: the Sultanate of Oman and the Hadramawt region of Yemen. I spent the 2000-2001 academic year in Oman and the Hadramawt, and became particularly interested in the Ibadi sect of Islam, an ancient and small sect that is neither Sunni nor Shiite and is practiced in Oman and small pockets of North Africa. I have since written the first English-language study of Ibadi theology and have become a specialist in Ibadism in the modern period, especially in Oman and Zanzibar.

Honors & Awards

Carnegie Scholarship, 2009-2010
Alumni Discretionary Award for Service to the University of Illinois, 2008
University Scholar, University of Illinois, October 1996
Faculty Fellow, Center for Advanced Study, 2003


Fulbright Research Fellowships, 2000-2001; 1987-1988
Carnegie Scholarship, 2009-2010
National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1991-1992


Office Address

Department of Religion
3092B Foreign Languages Building
707 S. Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
M/C 166

Office Phone

Education/Academic qualification

Arabic and Islamic Studies, Ph.D., The Religious Lives of Muslim Women in Contemporary Egypt, The University of Chicago

Award Date: Jun 15 1986

Arabic and Islamic Studies, M.A., The Development of the Theology of the Unity of God in Islam, 750-950 A.D., The University of Chicago

Award Date: Dec 15 1979

Anthropology, B.A., The Muslim Family in Non-Arab Societies, University of Pennsylvania

Award Date: Jun 15 1975


  • B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
  • Islam
  • H Social Sciences
  • Anthropology


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