Hi! Thanks for visiting this page. I’m Asad!
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and graduated New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work in 2016 with a focus on community organizing. I entered NYU once more in the Fall of 2017 for its Near Eastern Studies MA program, and after one year into the program, I found that my interests would be better served by transferring over to Columbia University for its MA in Islamic Studies, beginning in Spring 2019.
I also work as a Sunday school instructor for an organization called Cordoba House, and most recently worked as a scholarly media partner with CBS Religion & Culture, a Teaching Assistant (TA) for a course on legal and ethical approaches to Islamic law at NYU, and Community Engagement Coordinator for an organization called Muslim Community Network. In all of these capacities, most of my work has/had to do with a combination of teaching, writing, advising, organizing, and facilitating a range of workshops, programs, and events typically centered around religion generally and Islam specifically.
I would say my academic interests include: modern Islamic intellectual history; cultural production and social history in the Middle East and South Asia (MESA); and the impact of modernity on the MESA regions, particularly what such processes meant for existing social and political structures and how those structures were transformed, especially with the emergence of mass-literate societies, a public sphere, and urbanization.
I am also interested in the local and global travel of ideas into and between regions across time and space, and how Muslim thinkers, societies, and states negotiate[d] the “traditional and religious” with “the modern and secular” along with, and in response to, ideas and developments in/from Europe. I do not believe that social and political events can be studied solely with reference to material structures and conditions to the exclusion of ideas and cultures. Finally, I have a growing interest in reading about formations of religious identity in modern Islamic and Jewish thought.
Because I come from a community organizing and non-profit background, I am always interested in seeing how I can make my work intersect meaningfully with the lives of everyday people. How can I use what I learn to address contemporary challenges? What can I do to become a more effective advocate for the collective well-being of humanity? And most importantly, how can I use my education to become a better person? These are questions I ask myself every day.
Current Personal Projects
There are a number of personal projects that I am working on, either on my own initiative, through applications, or out of requests. Here’s a short (though not necessarily an exhaustive) list:
Sunni-Shi’a Curriculum: Most recently, I returned from a pilgrimage trip to Iraq last winter (which I have yet to write about, except on Twitter) and was so inspired by it that I am working on creating a curriculum geared toward young Muslims that would increase understanding and create meaningful relationships between Sunni and Shi’i denominations. Ideally, through studying this curriculum and taking the trip, students would be able to create those connections and step into each other’s worlds. If you’d like to inquire more or help out, feel free to!
(This is a long-term project with no tentative completion date)
Brooklyn Public Library Book Suggestions: I was recently contacted by a local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) asking for recommendations on books related to Islam as they are seeking to update their collection. With the help and consultation of scholarly colleagues and friends, I am working on compiling a collection of roughly 40-50 titles spanning the gamut of subjects. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to reach out!
(This should be tentatively completed by mid-to-late May 2019)
Summer 2019 Plans: In summer of 2019 I will be spending at least two months in Egypt, specifically at the American University of Cairo, for an intensive Islamic Studies program that would involve classes with academics on selected subjects followed by primary source Arabic text study. I am very excited for the program!
(This program takes place from mid-June to mid-August)
Purpose of Blog and How to Contact
This blog is part personal journal and part professional portfolio, but it is also a space for me to share my evolving reflections in an organized manner. I hope you enjoy perusing through the sections. If you’d like to receive my blogposts in your email in the form of (very rarely sent) newsletters, you can subscribe here, and if you’d like to get in touch, please do not hesitate to write to me. Thanks!
[Last updated: May 2019]