Communities Like You: Animals and Islam – Speakers

HRH Alia Al Hussein, Keynote Speaker

Princess Alia Al Hussein is the daughter of His Majesty, the late King Hussein and Queen Dina of Jordan. She is a devoted animal lover and ambassador of the Arabian horse. She is the President of the Royal Jordanian Equestrian Federation, Honorary President of the Jordan Philatelic Society, the Circassian Ladies Welfare Society, the Society for the Development & Welfare of Rural Women, and Governor of the British Arab Horse Society. Princess Alia is the founder of the Princess Alia Foundation, which is devoted to promoting balance, harmony, and respect for all of creation.

Throughout the years, Princess Alia has devoted herself to many local, national, and international humanitarian and cultural causes.



Dalia Abo-Haggar
Dalia Abo-Haggar joined Harvard in Fall 2011 as Preceptor of Arabic. She obtained her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and her MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language from The American University in Cairo, Egypt. Her dissertation, Repetition: A Key to Qur’anic Style Structure and Meaning, focuses on Qur’anic style and rhetoric. She wrote her Master’s thesis on Egyptian Educated Spoken Arabic, the extemporaneous speech of educated Egyptians when discussing issues of culture and modernity. Her primary interests include stylistics of the Qur’an, Animals in Islam, and Arabic Language and Linguistics.


Ali Asani
Ali Asani is the Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard, and serves as Chair of the Near Eastern Language and Civilizations Department (NELC). He holds a joint appointment in NELC and on the Committee for the Study of Religion. He also serves on the faculty of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. He has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of languages such as Urdu/Hindi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Swahili as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition. He is interested in the comparative study of Islam and Muslim societies in local contexts, particularly in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, with an emphasis on artistic and literary expressions of Muslim devotional life.


Persis Berlekamp
Persis Berlekamp teaches the history of Islamic art and architecture at the University of Chicago, where she is Associate Professor of Art History. Much of her research focuses on art produced in the central and eastern Islamic lands from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, and on its relationship to intellectual life. Current research projects include an inquiry into astrology and talismanic sculpture in medieval Anatolia, and an ongoing study of an illustrated Persian manuscript on Chinese medicine that was produced in early fourteenth-century Tabriz. She earned her PhD from Harvard University in 2003, and is the author of Wonder, Image, and Cosmos in Medieval Islam (Yale University Press, 2011), an analysis of illustrated Islamic wonders-of-creation manuscripts.


Alexander Brey
Alexander Brey is a PhD student at Bryn Mawr College. He received his B.A. from Vassar College in 2008, and his MA from Bryn Mawr College in 2011. His interests include the reuse of architectural materials in the Early Middle Ages, the use of technology in researching and teaching early Islamic art, and the ways in which art reflects larger cultural attitudes towards nature. He is currently writing a dissertation about images of hunting in the Umayyad period.


Jennifer Derr
Jennifer Derr is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she teaches courses in the history of the modern Middle East, Ottoman history, environmental history, world history, and post-colonial politics. She completed a PhD in History at Stanford University in 2009. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a Master of Arts from Georgetown University in Contemporary Arab Studies. Before moving to the University of California, she taught at the American University in Cairo and Bard College. Professor Derr’s research concerns the social, cultural, and environmental history of the modern Middle East. She is currently completing a manuscript exploring the construction of the environment surrounding the Nile River in colonial Egypt and its relationship to the practice of the colonial state. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays Commission, the Social Science Research Council, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Mellon Foundation, and the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nuri Friedlander
Nuri Friedlander is a PhD candidate in the Study of Religion at Harvard, where he is currently researching Islamic law and ethics regarding animal slaughter in the 20th and 21st centuries. Nuri is the co-founder of Beyond Halal, a project that examines Islamic law, ethics, and the treatment of animals. He received an MA in Arabic Language and Literature from the American University in Cairo in 2006. He was a Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Fellow at Harvard in 2007-2008.



Nariman GasimogluNariman Gasimoglu
Dr. Nariman Gasimoglu is a Muslim scholar and religious activist from Azerbaijan, now a fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University engaging in religious studies research. Dr. Gasimoglu is widely respected as one of the foremost scholars of Islam in the Post-Soviet states. His current research examines shared perspectives on ecology in the Biblical and Qur’anic traditions.


Lenn Goodman
Lenn Goodman is Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. His books include Creation and Evolution, Islamic Humanism, In Defense of Truth: A Pluralistic Approach, Jewish and Islamic Philosophy: Crosspollinations in the Classic Age, Avicenna, On Justice, and his Gifford Lectures, Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself. He has lectured widely in the United States and abroad and is the translator and commentator of Saadiah Gaon’s Arabic commentary on the Book of Job, Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, and, with Richard McGregor, the tenth century Arabic ecological fable The Case of the Animals vs Man before the King of the Jinn.


Nadeem Haque
Nadeem Haque is a researcher and author interested in Animal Rights and Ecology and History of Science. His books include the series From Microbits to Everything; From Facts to Values: Certainty, Order, Balance and their Universal Implications; and philosophical fiction. Mr. Haque is the grandson of the late Al-Hafiz B.A. Masri, who is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the theology of animals and Islam and an ardent animal welfare activist. Besides his academic research and interests, Mr. Haque is a registered professional engineer (civil/structural and environmental) and currently the V.P. of Engineering Services at an engineering firm in Ontario.


Susan Kahn
Susan Kahn received a PhD in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. Her book, Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel, was published in Fall 2000 by Duke University Press and won a National Jewish Book Award for the year 2000, as well as the 2001 Eileen Basker Memorial Prize, awarded by the Society of Medical Anthropology for outstanding research in gender and health. Her research interests include medical anthropology, kinship studies, Israeli studies and anthropology of the Middle East. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she is currently working on a research project about the relationship between people and dogs in the Land of Israel from ancient times to the present.


Christine Korsgaard
Christine Korsgaard is Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, where she has taught since 1991. Before Harvard, she held positions at Yale, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Chicago, as well as visiting positions at Berkeley and UCLA. She served as President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in 2008-2009, and held a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award from 2006-2009. She works on moral philosophy and its history, practical reason, the nature of agency, personal identity, normativity, and the ethical relations between human beings and other animals.


Alan Mikhail
Alan Mikhail is Assistant Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which won the Roger Owen Book Award from the Middle East Studies Association, and editor of Water on Sand: Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa (Oxford University Press, 2013). His book The Animal in Ottoman Egypt will be published by Oxford University Press in late 2013.


Roy Mottahedeh
Roy Parviz Mottahedeh received a PhD in history at Harvard in 1970 for a dissertation on Buyid administration which he still hopes to publish. His book, Lessons in Islamic Jurisprudence, published in 2003, studies the philosophy of Islamic law as taught in Shi’ite seminaries. Professor Mottahedeh received an honorary degree from the University of Lund, Sweden, in 2006. He served as Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard from 2006 to 2011. His courses include History of the Near East, 600-1055, Topics in Islamic History: Seminar, and Persian Language and Literature.


Abdullah Nana
Mufti Abdullah Nana received a traditional Islamic education in South Africa, including a study of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), Arabic Grammar, Arabic Morphology, Hadith (Sayings of the Holy Prophet), Tafsir (Commentary of the Quran), Aqidah (Islamic Beliefs and philosophy), Tajwid (Canonical Intonation of the Qur’an), Arabic Literature, and Islamic History. He also completed his post-graduate studies while specializing in Islamic Jurisprudence and obtained an authorization from his teachers to issue legal opinions, or fatwa, thus earning the title of a ‘Mufti.’ Mufti Abdullah currently serves as an Imam at the Islamic Center of Mill Valley, California. He is also the founder of Halal Advocates, an organization that provides halal certification for American food companies, restaurants, and animal processing facilities, and is the author of Legal Rulings on Slaughtered Animals.

Kimberley Patton
Kimberly PattonKimberley Patton specializes in ancient Greek religion and archaeology, with research interests in archaic sanctuaries and in the iconography of sacrifice. She also teaches in the history of world religions, offering courses in cross-cultural religious phenomenology including the mythology of natural elements, animals in religion and myth, angels and angelology, and funerary cult. Her most recent book, Religion of the Gods: Ritual, Paradox, and Reflexivity (Oxford, 2009), won the 2010 American Academy of Religion Book Award for Excellence in Religious Studies in the Analytical-Descriptive category. Among her other books is A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics, with Paul Waldau.

Ahmed Ragab
Ahmed Ragab is a physician, historian, and scholar of the medieval and modern Middle East, with a medical degree from Cairo University and a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. Ragab’s work includes the history and development of medieval Islamic sciences, the relationship between science and religion in the medieval and modern Middle East, the history of medieval Islamic hospitals, and the intellectual and cultural history of women in the region. He is currently completing two book projects: A Biography of a Hospital: Medicine, Religion and Charity in the Medieval Middle East, and In the Name of God the Healer: Prophetic Medicine in the Medieval and Modern Middle East. Ragab is also working on a research project on perceptions of bodies, genders, and sexualities in medical, religious, and cultural views in the Islamic world.


Kristen Stilt
Kristen Stilt is Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law and an affiliated faculty member in the History Department. She received her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law, where she was an associate editor of the Texas Law Review and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Journal of Women and the Law. Her PhD (2004) in History and Middle Eastern Studies is from Harvard University. After law school, she worked for three years as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in the Washington D.C. and Moscow, Russia offices, and also worked at the UNHCR in Moscow. Her research interests are the historical development and practice of Islamic law as well as contemporary manifestations and applications of law that is presented as Islamic.


Sarra Tlili
Dr. Tlili is a scholar of Arab and Islamic studies, and is the author of Animals in the Qur’an (2012). She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization. Her primary research interests are stylistics of the Qur’an, animals in Islam, and Arabic literature. Among the courses she has taught are The Qur’an as Literature and Sustainability in Arabic Texts.


Paul Waldau
Paul Waldau is an educator and scholar working at the intersection of animal studies, law, ethics, religion, and cultural studies. He is an Associate Professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, where he is the Senior Faculty for the Master of Science graduate program in Anthrozoology. Paul will again serve as the Barker Visiting Associate Professor on Animal Law at Harvard Law School in 2014, where he has taught the “Animal Law” course since 2002. The former Director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Paul taught veterinary ethics and public policy courses for more than a decade. He has a Doctor of Philosophy degree from University of Oxford, a Juris Doctor degree from UCLA Law School, and a Master of Arts degree from Stanford University in Religious Studies. Paul has completed five books, the most recent of which are Animal Studies—An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Animal Rights (Oxford University Press, 2011). He is also co-editor of A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics (Columbia University Press, 2006).


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