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Faculty Bios

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Dr. Zainab Alwani
Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies
Dr. Zainab Alwani is the Founding Director of the Islamic Studies at the Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD). She is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and the chair of Master of Arts (Religious Studies) program at HUSD. She is an Islamic scholar, researcher, and community activist. Dr. Alwani is the first female jurist to serve on the board of the Fiqh Council of North America and currently serves as the Council's Vice-Chair. Her research focuses on Quranic studies, Islamic jurisprudence, the relationship between civil and religious law in the area of family and gender, and inter-religious relations.

Prior to joining the School of Divinity, Dr. Alwani was the Program Director and Adjunct Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Northern Virginia Community College. She was also an Adjunct Professor of Arabic Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She developed courses in Arabic Studies that focused on the link between Islamic philosophy, language, and culture. She also taught Islamic history, inter-religious dialogue, and comparative religion at Wesley Theological Seminary and the Washington National Cathedral.

She has authored and co-authored a wide variety of publications ranging from textbooks, book chapters, to scholarly articles. She recently co-edited a special issue of The Muslim World journal published by Hartford Seminary, Judaism and Islam in America, October 2014 Volume 104, Issue 4. Some of her latest publications include: Maqāṣid Qur᾽āniyya: A Methodology on Evaluating Modern Challenges and Fiqh al-Aqalliyyāt (p 465–487), "What Islam Says about Domestic Violence" "Muslim Women as Religious Scholars: A Historical Survey," in Muslima Theology: New Voices of Muslim Women Theologians," and co-author "Religion, Gender, And Family Law: Critical Perspectives On Integration for Western-Muslims" in Applying sharia in the West", Leiden University Press.

Her forthcoming publications include a series of articles on Quranic studies and a book, "Islamic Jurisprudence: Women Scholars and Islamic Family Law in Morocco," investigate the influence and the dynamics of Muslim women religious scholarship and activism on the advancement of Islamic Jurisprudence, family and society in contemporary Morocco.

Dr. Alwani received her PhD in Islamic Sciences and Islamic Jurisprudence from the International Islamic University in Malaysia. Her PhD dissertation examined Maqāṣid/objectives of al Sahriah in the area of family, the book "The Family and Maqasid Al Shariah: Marriage and Divorce in American Muslim Family."

Dr. Alwani is a mother of four, and a grandmother of four. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, reading, writing and traveling.

Representative Publications:
• Author: "Alusra fi Maqasid al sharia: Qira' fi Qadaya al zawaj waltalaq fi Amrika" The Objectives of Sharia and the family: Reading in Marriage and Divorce in American Muslim Family. Herndon/VA: The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), 2013. ISBN 978-1-56564-476-2

Muslim Women and Global Challenges: Seeking change through a Quranic Textual Approach and the Prophetic Model. New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies, Genuine Publications & Media Pvt, 2012. ISBN 9389965330/ 978-9389965339.

• "Tatwr al manhj al maqasidi inda al mu'asreen: Mudarasa ma'al doktoor Taha Jabir al alwani" The Development of The Islamic Legal Theory and the Objectives of Shar'ia: A Conversation with Taha Al Alwani. Herndon: The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) January, 2012. ISBN 1-56564-474-3 978-1-56564-474-8

What Islam says about Domestic Violence: A Guide for Helping Muslim Families. Zainab Alwani & Salma Abugideiri (Herndon: FAITH, 2003) second edition, 2012.

• Perspectives: Arabic Language and Culture in Films. Alwani, Z., Sryfi, M., Isleem, N. ( USA: Alucen Learning, 2009)

Chapter Books and Articles (Peer Review):
• "Socioeconomic and Gender Justice in the Qur'ān: Modern Challenges." In the book "Sacred Texts and Human Contexts: Poverty and Wealth in the Sacred Texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam." Palgrave Macmillan. Expected date for publication is Fall, 2015.

• "Islamic Jurisprudence and Roles of Women Scholars: Examining Juristic Methodology." In the book, "Feminism in Islamic Law: Classical Islamic Theory and Contemporary Trends," edited by Luqman Zakariyah. Expected date for publication is Spring, 2016.

• Muslim Women as Religious Scholars: A Historical Survey in Muslima Theology: The Voices of Muslim Women Theologians, Aslan, Ednan / Hermansen, Marcia / Medeni, Elif (eds.) Peter Lang Press, 2013 Islamstudien/dp/3631628994

• Religion, Gender, and Family Law: Critical Perspectives on Integration for European Muslims in Applying Shari'a In The West: Facts, Fears and the Future of Islamic Rules on Family Relations in the West: Zainab Alwani & Celene Ayat Lizzio, edited by M. S. Berger. Leiden University Press, 2013.

• Conflict Resolution: Muslim reflection. Interfaith JustPeaceMaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War. Edited by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-230-33989-7

• Family Relations: Islamic Perspective. In Domestic Violence Cross Cultural Perspectives. Edited by: M. Basheer Ahmed. Published by: MCC for Human Service: Northern Texas. 2009. ISBN: 978-1-4415-4472-8

• The Quranic Model for Harmony in family relations, eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb & Salma Elkadi Abugideiri. (VA Peacefulfamilies, 2007). ISBN 0-9791389-0-6

Articles: Peer-reviewed journal:

• Maqāṣid Qur᾽āniyya:
A Methodology on Evaluating Modern Challenges and Fiqh al-Aqalliyyāt. The Muslim World journal published by Hartford Seminary, Judaism and Islam in America, October 2014 Volume 104, Issue 4. (p 465–487),

• "The Quranic Model on Social change: Family structure as a method of social reform" in Islam and Civilisational Renewal (ICR) Journal vol. 3 no. 1 (November 2011) an international

• Critical Reading in al-Ghazālī's Usul al Fiqh/Legal theory Books: Qira'a fi Kutub al-Ghazālī al Usulia, Journal: Islamiyat Alma'rafa, No. 27, 2001, Published by IIIT.

Aicha's Istidrakat and Their Methodological Premises: Reclaiming a Stunted Tradition. Journal: Women & Civilization, No.3, 2002. Published by The Association for the study of Women in Civilization.

Encyclopedia Entry:

Domestic Violence” in Oxford University Press: The [Oxford] Encyclopedia of Islam and Women.

Conference Proceeding:
“New Perspectives on Gender in Shari‘ah-based Family Law Studies: Moving Beyond Women’s Rights.” In London Center For Social Studies LCSS. May, 2015

Conference Proceedings Gender and the "Law": Limits, Contestations and Beyond - pdf

• Introduction to the Quran
• The Quran and its place in Muslim Life
• Prophethood in the Bible and the Quran
• Ethics and Prophetic Tradition in Islam
• Sacred Text and Hermeneutics.
• Islam in America: History and Culture
• Dialogue with Islam
• Modern Islam and Its History
• Women, Gender and Family in an Islamic Context
• The women in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran
Islamic Studies: Academics page

Personal website:
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updated: December 2, 2015

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