Jamal J. Elias

Class of 1965 Term Professor of Religious Studies

Religious Studies




B.A., Stanford University (1983)
M.A., University of Pennsylvania (1985)
M.A., Yale University (1987)
Ph.D., Yale University (1991)


Arabic, French, Persian, Punjabi, Turkish (modern and Ottoman), Urdu, Chaghatay, German, Spanish

Research Interests:

Islamic mystical thought and metaphysics; Religion and Material Culture; Popular Culture in South Asia and Turkey; Arabic and Persian Scholarly Literature; Visual Studies

Overseas Research Experience:

Bangladesh, Egypt, France, India, Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, UK

Representative Awards and Distinctions:

Honorary M.A., Amherst College

Recent Publications:

Key Themes for the Study of Islam; "The Sufi Robe (khirqa) as a Vehicle of Spiritual Authority" in Robes and Honor: The Medieval World of Investiture, ed. Steward Gordon; "Truck Decoration and Religious Identity: Material Culture and Social Function in Pakistan" in Material Culture; "Sayyid 'Ali-yi Hamadani and the Making of His Charisma" in Muslim World; "Not Reading the Writing on the Wall: Monumental Calligraphy as Visual Sign" in Design: Essays on Popular Visual Culture and Iconography by Saima Zaidi.


History of Islamic Civization, Islamic Ethics, Islamic Metaphysics, Islam and the Religious Image