Hi! Thanks for visiting this page. I’m Asad!
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and graduated New York University (NYU) with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work in 2016 with a focus on community organizing. I am currently a graduate student at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute pursing an MA in Islamic Studies, anticipating to graduate in May 2020.
I currently work as a Sunday school instructor for an organization called Cordoba House, and as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for two courses at NYU. Most recently in the past, I have worked as a scholarly media partner with CBS Religion & Culture, and as a 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/faith generally and Islam specifically. I truly enjoy learning and teaching, and consider myself as a lifelong student. If asked where I see myself professionally in the future, I would say it would be at the crossroads of advocacy, activism, and academia.
I would say my academic interests include: modern Islamic intellectual history in the Middle East and South Asia (MESA henceforth); how the processes of modernity transformed existing social and political structures and reconstituted notions of belonging, religion, identity, and law or gave birth to new ones, 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.
I also have a deep interest in Islamic mysticism or Sufism and its various manifestations, be it poetry or Sufi orders, and particularly with its evolution from the medieval into the early-modern and modern periods.
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:
New Books in Middle East/Islamic Studies: I recently joined as a co-host for a popular academic podcast called New Books in Middle Eastern Studies, which is part of the New Books Network, a consortium of author-interview podcast channels dedicated to raising the level of public discourse by introducing serious authors to a wide public via new media. In my capacity as a network host, I will interview authors who’ve recently published new books in the fields of Middle East and Islamic Studies about their books (after reading them) to bring them to the attention of a wider audience. It’s a fun and intimate conversation that is quite enjoyable both for the speakers and the listeners. I encourage you to subscribe.
(I have completed about half a dozen interviews and have nearly a dozen more lined up, but because I was in Egypt all summer, I have not had the time for post-production. They will be released in the fall semester. Please stay tuned)!
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: August 2019]
(Photo: Summer 2015, Jerusalem)