Jamal J. Elias

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Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities
Professor of Religious Studies and South Asia Studies
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Jamal J. Elias teaches courses on Islamic thought, culture and history, with a focus on Sufism, Islamic and modernity, as well as visual and material culture in the Middle East and South Asia. A recipient of many grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Social Science Research Council (among others), he has lectured and published broadly on history, religion, literature and material and visual culture in the medieval and modern Islamic world. His most recent books are On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford 2011), Aisha's Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge, MA, 2012), and Alef is for Allah: Childhood, Emotion and Visual Culture in Islamic Societies (Berkeley, 2018). At present he is writing a book on the history of the Mevlevi order (Rumi's followers) from shortly after Rumi's death until the advent of modernity.


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

Research and Teaching Interests: 
  • Islamic thought and metaphysics
  • Religion and Visual Culture
  • Popular Culture in Western and South Asia
  • Sufi literature
  • Qur'anic Studies
Recent Courses: 
  • Islam and Modernity
  • Love, Sex and Death
  • Sufism
  • Qur'anic Studies
  • Islam and the Religious Image
  • Religion and Visual Culture
  • Islamic Metaphysics
  • The Perisan Intellectual Tradition
  • Sufism in the Ottoman Empire
Curriculum vitae: 
The Throne Carrier of God
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Death before Dying
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On Wings of Diesel
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Aisha's Cushion
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