Associate Professor, Department of History
St. Louis University
My primary research interests have been in medieval Islamic history, in particular political practice and thought in early centuries of Islam, historiography, messianic thought and movements, and cross-cultural encounters. I see my research as situated in the history of thought, with a particular dynamic of bringing a consciousness of historical process to challenge normative and essentialist perceptions. In the Development of Sunni Political Thought, I examine the historical context in which Sunni political thought's major themes and arguments were formed and articulated. By setting the development of Sunni political thought against the background of the caliphate from the middle of the seventh to the early tenth centuries, I illustrate how Sunni political thought was formed and evolved in negotiation with religio-political movements of early Islam.
In my second book, Messianic Beliefs and Imperial Politics in Medieval Islam, I examined how charismatic leadership might have inspired political and institutional changes in medieval Islamic history. In general, I study the relationship between rulers and religion in order to understand political action. More specifically, I attempt to understand the role of messianic and apocalyptic beliefs in shaping Abbasid political behavior. The caliphs were inspired by messianic beliefs and relied on them to craft, support, and justify their imperial policies. By focusing closely on the period between 809 and 833 I attempt to link the civil war and the policies of al-Ma'mun to the ideological context created by the early ninth-century Muslim and non-Muslim prophecies. I am currently working on the the caliphate, political practice and thought, messianic movements, and universal historiography in medieval Islam. Finding world history curious and inspiring, I have been developing a research agenda that studies Islamic history and thought in a world historical context.
Messianic Beliefs and Imperial Politics in Medieval Islam: The Abbasid Caliphate in the Early Ninth Century. Columbia, SC: The University of South Carolina Press, 2009.
Tatawwur al-Fikr al-Siyasi 'inda Ahl al-Sunna: Fatrat al-Takwin [The Development of Sunni Political Thought: The Formative Period], (Amman: Dar al-Bashir, 1993).
Articles and Book Chapters
"Translation as Self-Consciousness: The Abbasid Translation Movement, Ancient Sciences, and Antediluvian Wisdom," Journal of World History, 2009.
Allahin Halifesi ve Dunyanin Kadisi: Bir Dunya Imparatorlugu Olarak Hilafet," [God's Caliph and World's Judge: The Caliphate as a World Empire,] Divan: Disiplinlerarasi Calismalar Dergisi, 22 (2007).
"Ancient Imperial Heritage and Islamic Historiography: Al-Dinawari's Secular Perspective," Journal of Global History 2 (2007).
"Meta Narratives: Political Legitimacy, Fate and Piety in the Narratives of the Abbasid Civil War," Turkish Journal of Islamic Studies 10 (2005).
"Between Nationalism and the Social Sciences: A History of Modern Scholarship on the 'Abbasid Civil War and the Reign of al-Ma'mun," Medieval Encounters 8 (2002): 56-78.
"Ortacag Evrensel Islam Tarihciligi ve Katip Çelebi: Bir On Inceleme," [Medieval Islamic Universal Historiography and Katip Celebi: A Preliminary Investigation,] Proceedings of the International Symposium on Katip Celebi, Istanbul, Turkey, 2009.
"Bir Kurgu Olarak Klasik Islam Siyaset Dusuncesi: Dini ve Rasyonel Ahlak Hakkindaki Ana Anlatiya Alternatif Yaklasimlar," [Classical Islamic Political Thought as a Construction: Alternative Approaches to the Master Narrative on Religious and Rational Morality], in Sami Erdem and M. Cuneyt Kaya, eds., Islam ve Klasik (Istanbul: Klasik Yayinlari, 2008).