+44 (0)113 343 3416
Summary: Arabic history and historiography; Arabic archives; Arabic codicology; medieval Islamic institutions of learning; Islam and gender; history of the modern Middle East
Location: Room 402a, Michael Sadler Building
My research and teaching are focused broadly on the history and historiography of early and medieval Islam, specifically Arabic historical texts of the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk eras in the 6th-9th Islamic centuries (12th-15th centuries CE).
I took my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Oxford, where I began my academic journey by studying for a BA in English, after which I spent two years working as a journalist in London. It was reading Amitav Gosh's fascinating and suggestive novel In An Antique Land that led me to explore the pre-modern Islamicate world, and I then studied for an MPhil in Classical and Medieval Islamic history. This led to a specialisation in Mamluk historiography and, after an extended maternity leave, to my DPhil, for which I made a diplomatic edition of Ibn al-Furāt's account of late Fatimid rule from the unique autograph manuscript of his nine-volume history of the Islamic world, and produced an historiographical analysis of this corpus of texts (some otherwise lost) dating from the 6th/12th century of Islamic history.
My recent research revisits Ibn al-Furāt's inventory of historiographical sources within a chronicle as archive framework, in which I make the case for a more nuanced appraisal of medieval Arabic chronicles as documents that go beyond sectarian polemics to perform as archives of lost material.
I received my doctorate in late 2010, taught Islamic history at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education from February 2010, took up a Research Fellowship at the Cambridge Muslim College in 2011/2012 and came to Leeds in September 2012, where I am based in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies (LCS). (Note: please direct MAR/PhD inquiries to me at LCS and not at the Institute for Medieval Studies at Leeds, with which I also have an association.)
For the past few years, I have been the Islam consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary (third edition) and for Oxford Dictionaries Online. I am a contributor to the Encyclopaedia of Islam 3 and serve as a Council Member of the British Association for Islamic Studies.
Writing History in the Medieval Islamic World: The Value of Chronicles as Archives (I B Tauris, forthcoming in 2018)
'Did Salah al-Din Destroy the Fatimids' Books? An Historiographical Enquiry', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 25:1 (2015), pp. 21-39. This article was generously awarded the Royal Asiatic Society's Staunton Prize
'A Mamluk Historian's Holograph. Messages from a Musawwada of Tarīkh', Journal of Islamic Manuscripts, Volume 3, Number 2, 2012 , pp. 119-153
Article for The Conversation (July 2015; reprinted in Newsweek Europe, Express Tribune Karachi and CNN.com): 'Discovery of oldest Qur'an fragments could resolve enigmatic history of holy text'
Recent Conference/Seminar Papers
Middle Period Arabic chronicles as archives of knowledge: theoretical and practical considerations, workshop on Chronicles as Archives in Medieval Islamicate Contexts, Leeds Humanities Research Institute, December 2016
'Did Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn destroy the Fatimids' books?', RAS Fresh Perspectives lecture at the Royal Asiatic Society, London, September 2015
'Documenting the production of knowledge: rethinking Arabic chronicles as archives', IMPAcT research group colloquium, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, July 2015
Salah al-Din and the Libraries of Fatimid Egypt', Medieval Studies Seminars, School of History, May 2014 and International Medieval Congress, July 2014, University of Leeds
Natural Selection: Fatimid Voices in Mamluk Chronicles the Account of the Death of al-Hakim in al-Qudais Uyun al-Maarif, Colloquium on the History of Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayubid and Mamluk Eras 21, University of Ghent, Belgium, May 2012
A History of Arabic Historiography, Cambridge Muslim College, January 2012
Madrasas in the Medieval Near East: Religious Scholarship and Political Subversion, School of Divinity, University of Cambridge, December 2011
Historiography in Mamluk Egypt: the Interplay Between Normative and Subversive Impulses, Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiography conference, Agha Khan University/School of African and Asian Studies, London, September 2010
For the past four years I have hosted or given talks on Islamic/Middle Eastern history at the Ilkley Literature Festival. I also advise several West Yorkshire schools and local authorities on the teaching of Islamic History at school level.
ARAB1150: Early and Medieval Islamic History
ARAB2310 & ARAB2290: Modern Middle Eastern History
ARAB5060M: Debating the Middle East: Islam, Politics and Culture
MODL5024M: Principles and Practice of Research
ARAB5005M: MA Dissertation in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
Equality and Inclusion Liaison for LCS
Current research students:
F. Latif (PhD): A comparison of four medieval Muslim historians' narratives of Saqīfa
S. Mehnaz (PhD): Concepts of honour in Islam and Muslim communities: perceptions, praxis and new modalities (fully funded by a White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities doctoral award)
A. Muhammad (PhD): The public sphere of the later Abbasid caliphate (1000-1258): the role of Sufism (fully funded by a Punjab Higher Education Commission PhD Scholarship)
I. Cosmano (PhD): Gender roles, attitudes, life expectations and aspirations of young, educated Jordanians: an intersectional study (fully funded by the LCS Award for Excellence)