Elias, Jamal J.

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Religion Department
Amherst College
Amherst, MA 01002

(413) 542-2285 (office)
(413) 542-2727 (fax)
email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ph.D. Yale University (Religious Studies) May, 1991
A.M. Yale University (Religious Studies) May, 1987
A.M. University of Pennsylvania (Oriental Studies) December, 1985
A.B. Stanford University (Religious Studies) June, 1983
A.M. Amherst College (honorary) September, 2002
Intensive Advanced Turkish Program, Bosphorus Summer, 1985
University, Istanbul, Turkey
Stanford-in-Tours, France 1981

Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts.
Professor, Religion Department, 2002 to present.
Associate Professor, Religion Department, 1996 to 2002.
Assistant Professor, Religion Department, 1989 to 1996.
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Visiting Professor, Department of Religious Studies, 2002 to 2003.
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
Teaching Associate, Department of Religious Studies, 1987 to 1989.


Death Before Dying: Sufi Poems of Sultan Bahu. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
(introduction, edition and translation of approximately one hundred and twenty Punjabi
poems by the 17th century Sufi poet Sultan Bahu).
The Throne Carrier of God: The Life and Thought of Alaђ ad-dawla as-Simnani. Albany: State
University of New York Press, 1995 (a study of one of the most influential religious figures in
medieval Iran).
Islam. In the series Religions of the World, edited by Ninian Smart. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:
Prentice Hall, and London: Routledge, 1999. Translated into German (Herder), Chinese (Cit)
Portugese (Edioes 70); Spanish (Akal); Japanese and Polish translations in production.
Coauthor, Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition, edited by Dwight F.
Reynolds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
Pocket Idiot駒s Guide to Islam. New York: Alpha Books, 2002.

Articles in refereed journals and edited works
Truck Decoration and Religious Identity: Material Culture and Social Function in Pakistan.Ӕ
Material Religion 1:1 (Spring 2005) [forthcoming].
Not Reading the Writing on the Wall: Monumental Calligraphy as Visual Sign.Ӕ In Saima Zaidi, ed.,
Design: Essays on Popular Visual Culture and Iconography. Karachi: Oxford University
Press, 2004 [forthcoming].
On Wings of Diesel: Spiritual Space and Religious Imagination in Pakistani Truck Decoration.Ӕ RES:
Anthropology and Aesthetics 43 (Spring 2003).
“The Sufi Robe (khirqa) as a Vehicle of Spiritual Authority.” In Stewart Gordon, ed., Robes and
Honor: The Medieval World of Investiture. New York: Palgrave, 2001.
Guest editor, Muslim World 90:3-4 (2000), Spe!ial Issue on Saints and Shrines.
“Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani and the Making of his Charisma.” Muslim World, 90:3-4 (2000), Special Issue
on Saints and Shrines.
Zikr-i DervioeӢne’den Divn Musikisine Kadar: Osmanllar Devrinde Sem⃢‘ya Bir Bakoe (From
Dervish Zikr to Court Musi!: An Analysis of Sema in the Ottoman Period).Ô Cogito (Istanbul)
19 (Summer 1999), Special Issue on the Ottomans.
“Sufism.” Review Article on coverage of Sufism in Encyclopaedia Iranica, vols. 1-7. Iranian Studies
31:3-4 (1998).
My Life with the Prophet: the Hadith Traditions of ‘A’isha as Prototypes of Self-Narrative.Ӕ
Edebiyat 7:2 (1997), Special Issue on Autobiography in Arabic Literature.
Risӥla-yi nΣriyya-yi Shaykh Alƥ ad-dawla-yi Simnҥn.Ŕ Maarif (Tehran) 13:1 (1996).
ғThe Sufi Lords of Bahrabad. Iranian Studies 27:1-4 (1994), Special Issue on Religion and Statecraft
in Pre-Modern Iran.
ԓA Kubraw Treatise on Mysti!al Visions: The Risala-yi nuriyya of ņAl ad-dawla as-Simn咥n.Ŕ
Muslim World 83 (Jan. 1993).
Female and Feminine in Islamic Mysticism.Ӕ Muslim World 78 (July - O!tober 1988).

Publications in encyclopedias, magazines and non-scholarly works
Mysticism: Islamic Mysticism in Asia.Ӕ New Dictionairy of the Hstory of Ideas. New York:
S!ribners, 2004 [forthcoming].
ғLight. Encyclopedia of the QurԒan. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003.
Lamp.Ӕ Encyclopedia of the Quran. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003.
Associate Editor, Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, edited by D. Levinson and K. Christensen. New
York: Charles Scribner, 2002.
ғRoad Queens: Pakistans Tru!ks.Ҕ Art India (July 2002).
Face of God.Ӕ Encyclopedia of the Quran. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2002.
ғSecularization, Laicization, and Challenges to Feminist Reform in the Islamic World. Curricular
Crossings: WomenԒs Studies and Area Studies, A Web Anthology for the College Classroom
from the Five College Womens Studies Research Center
ғGhaznavid, ԓIl-Khn, 唓Layla and MajnΣn, ԓNawrΣz,Ԕ Rubaiyӥt, ԓRΣm,Ŕ Shӥh, ԓSharőat,
Ali,Ŕ SΣfism,Ӕ Timur (Tamarlane).Ӕ The Dictionary of Global Culture, ed. K.A. Appiah and
H.L. Gates. New York: Knopf, 1996.
Ӗlm: bize korkun, bize gerekli (Death: Awful and Unavoidable).짔 Fol (Istanbul) 4 (1996).
Mawlawiyah.Ӕ The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. John L. Esposito et al.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Shattariyah.Ӕ The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. John L. Esposito et al.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Persian and Arabic Literature (c. A.D. 600-1400).Ӕ Prentice Hall Literature, World Masterpieces.
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1991.
WomenӒs Rights and the Interpretation of Law. The American Muslim (May - June 1991).
Translations of nine Punjabi Qawwalis performed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, in Nusrat Revealed,
edited by Varun Soni [forthcoming].
Book reviews published in International Journal of Middle East Studies, Iranian Studies, Middle
East Studies Association Bulletin, Muslim World, and Religious Studies Review.
Poetry published in Japan, Pakistan and the United States.

A’isha’s Pillow: Religious Art and Perception in Islam. A monograph on religious art and
iconography in societies that view themselves as aniconic. It comprises a sustained discussion
on questions of perception in Islamic thought, and chapters on calligraphy as physical
representations of the divine word, the Hilya as a textual portrait of the Prophet, and the
iconography of vehicular decoration in Pakistan.
Tafsir najm al-qurԒan. Critical edition of the Arabic commentary on the Quran by
ґAla al-dawla al-Simnani, with scholarly introductions in English and Persian. Forthcoming
from Iran University Press.
On Wings of Diesel. A monograph on truck decoration in Pakistan. This will be the first booklength
study exploring the symbolism of truck decoration and tying it to the cultural and
religious context of Pakistani society.
Throne of GodӔ article for Encyclopedia of the Quran.
An article on the image of the Queen of Sheba in classical Arabic religious literature (co-authored
with Shawkat M. Toorawa, Cornell University).

Arabic, French, German (reading only), Hindi/Urdu, Persian, Punjabi, Turkish.

PAPERS READ (Selected, since 1990)

ғWhen is Writing not Writing? Quranic Calligraphy on Public Buildings.Ҕ Stanford University,
Stanford, California, January 2004.
Seeing versus Reading: QurӒanic Calligraphy as Visual Dhikr. Noor Center for Islamic Culture,
Toronto, Canada, O!tober 2003.
ԓHow does One measure Progress along the Sufi Path? Mysti!al Sensation and Perception in the
Golden Orderђ. York University, Toronto, Canada, O!tober 2003.
ԓVehicular Decoration: Vernacular Religion and Modern Identity in Pakistan. Williams College,
Williamstown, Massa!husetts, May 2003.
ԓReligious Art and the Nature of Perception in an Islamic Context. Stanford University,
Stanford, California, April 2003.
ԓReading Sufi Texts. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, November 2001.
ԓOn Wings of Diesel: Spiritual Space and Religious Imagination in Pakistani Truck Decoration.
Exploring the Frontiers of Islamic Art and Ar!hite!ture, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts,
May 2001.
ԓVehicle Decoration: Nostalgia and Religious Representation in Pakistan and the Indus Valley.
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, March 2001.
“Covered/uncovered, Open/closed: The Politics of Veiling in Turkey” Audiovisual lecture. Five
College Women’s Research Center, South Hadley, Massachusetts, November 1999.
“The Silk Road.” Audiovisual lecture. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, March 1999.
“Certificates, Suits and Sets of Rules: Masters and Disciples in Medieval Sufism.” 20th Annual
Meeting of the Muhiyuddin Ibn Arabi So!iety, Berkeley, California, October 1997.
“Experiences Purported, Experiences Reported: The Tensions of Text and Experience in Sunni
Sufi Instruction.” Colloquium entitled Conveying the Indescribable: Sufi Texts and Sufi Lives
in the Formative Period (9th to 13th centuries), University of California, Los Angeles, March
“How do You Make a Sufi Master? The Problem of Written Instruction in Islamic Mystical
Education.” Hartford Seminary Faculty Seminar, Hartford, Connecticut, February 1997.
ԓThe Sufi Lords of Bahrabad, Juvayn. University of Pennsylvania Middle East Seminar,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 1994.
ԓGods Face Through the Looking Glass: The Relationship between God and the Universe in
8th/14th century Sufi Thought.Ҕ American Research Institute in Turkey, Istanbul, Turkey,
May 1993.

Conference Papers
On Seeing: Relationships of Resemblance in Premodern Islamic Thought.Ӕ Majalis ul-ushaq:
Portrait, Poetry and Biography in the Iranian World, Amherst College, Amherst,
Massachusetts, O!tober 2004.
The Legitimation of Authority and the Perception of Spiritual Influen!e among Early
Kubrawis.Ӕ Middle East Studies Association, Annual Meeting, Anchorage, Alaska,
November 2003.
Religious Writing on the Tattooed Truck in Pakistan.Ӕ Sufism and Socioreligious Transformation
in the Punjab, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, April 2003.
“Moving Murals: Religion, Sentimentalism and Art in the Decoration of Trucks and Buses in
Pakistan.” American Academy of Religion, Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts,
November 1999.
“Zikr and Sem in the Mevleviye during the Ottoman Period.” Osmanl 700: International
Congress on Learning and Education in the Ottoman World, Istanbul, Turkey, April 1999.
“Robing and Symbols of Investiture in Islamic Spirituality.” American Academy of Religion,
Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, November 1997.
⃓Spiritual Guidance in Sufism: The Role of the Handbook, Middle East Studies Association ,
Annual Meeting, Providence, Rhode Island, November 1996.
ԓThe Narrator as Subject in Hadith. Middle East Studies Association, Annual Meeting, Phoenix,
Arizona, November 1994.
ԓPatriarchs, Magicians and Depilatory Preparations: The Encounter of Sulayman and the Queen
of Saba’. Five College Near East Seminar, Northampton, Massachusetts, December 1992.
ԓThe Four Faces of God: LhΣt, JabarΣt, MalakΣt and NsΣt in Islamic Thought.奔 Annual
Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 1992.
Sufism and Orthodoxy in the Central Islamic Lands in the 13th to 15th Centuries.Ӕ Five College
Religion Seminar, Northampton, Massachusetts, February 1990.

Council of the American Overseas Research Centers Fellow, 2003-2004.
Miner D. Crary Fellow, Amherst College, Summer 1995.
American Research Institute in Turkey Fellow, 1992 - 1993.
Amherst Trustee-Faculty Fellow, 1992 - 1993.
Dana Foundation Faculty Fellow, 1989 - 1993.
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, Summer 1992.
American Institute for Maghreb Studies Fellow, Summer 1991.
Honorable Mention, Dissertation of the Year, Foundation for Iranian Studies, 1991.
Honorable Mention, Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award, Middle East Studies Asso!iation, 1991.

American Academy of Religion.
American Institute of Pakistan Studies.
Association for the Study of Persianate Societies.
Society for Iranian Studies.
Sufis and Society Project.
Middle East Studies Association of North America.
Radical Reassessments of Arabic Arts, Language and Literature.

Chairman, Mal!olm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards Committee, Middle East Studies Asso!iation,
November 2003 present.
Steering Committee Member, Islamic Mysticism Section, American Academy of Religion,
November 2003 ֖ present.
Organizer, conferen!e entitled Majalis ul-ushaq: Portrait, Poetry and Biography in the Iranian
World,Ӕ Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, O!tober 2004.
Organizer, conferen!e entitled Sufism and Socioreligious Transformation in the Punjab,Ӕ
Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, April 2003.
Organizer, Annual Meeting of Sufis and Society Project, Amherst, Massachusetts, 2000, 2001,
2002, 2004.
Advisory Board Member, Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian
Muslims Relations, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, Connecticut, June 1996 - 2003.
Mal!olm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards Committee Member, Middle East Studies Association,
November 2002 - present.
History of Religions Committee Member, Amerifan Afademy of Religion, Defember 1999 - 2002.
Participant, Talking Toward Techno-Pedagogy, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania,
June 2001.
Steering Committee Member, Islam Section, American Academy of Religion, November 1997 -
Chairman, Religion Department, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, July 1997 June
1999; 2001 - 2002.
Chairman, Five College Near East Seminar, Five Colleges Incorporated, Amherst, Massachusetts,
July 1991 - July 1992; July 1993 - July 1995.
Director, Teachers֒ Workshop on Teaching about Islam and the Middle East, Amherst,
Massachusetts, July 1994.
Section Head, Islam Section, American Academy of Religion, New England Region, May 1990 -
May 1992.

Committee on Priorities and Resources, July 2000 to 2003.
Chairman, Hamilton Lecture Fund Committee, Amherst College, 2001 to present.
Residential Master Planning Committee, July 2000 to June 2001.
Faculty Research Awards Program Committee, July 1998 to June 2000.
College Council, July 1996 to June 1998.
Orientation Committee, July 1990 to June 1992, July 1993 to June 1994.
Five College Arabic Support Committee, July 1999 to May 2001.
Five College Near Eastern Studies Committee, July 1993 to May 1999.

COURSES TAUGHT (alphabetical)
For Every Pharoah there is a Moses: Islamic Liberation Theology
Introduction to Asia: Heroes and Villains
Introduction to Asia: The Silk Road
Islam and Modernity
Islam in the Modern World
Islamic Ethics
Introduction to Religion: Religion and Art
Introduction to Religion: The Body
Introduction to Religion: War
Muhammad and the Quran
Seminar in Sufi Thought [graduate seminar at Yale University]
The Delusion of Reality [First-year seminar]
The Islamic Religious Tradition
The Power of Icons
Women and Islamic Constructions of Gender

Readings in Islamic Philosophy
Readings in Persian Poetry
Readings in Modern Urdu Literature