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Interviews

Several times a year, members of the OISO Editorial Board interview some of the most influential figures in the field of Islamic studies, from scholars to artists to activists. Click on the conversations listed below to follow some of the latest discussions regarding the politics, culture, literature, and people of the Islamic world.

We invite you to send us feedback on and suggestions for these interviews by visiting and filling out our contact page.


Samira Ahmed

In Samira Ahmed's new bestselling novel Love, Hate & Other Filters(Soho Press), Muslim teenager Maya Aziz struggles to navigate her own path in life while confronting a wave of Islamophobia in the wake of a terrorist attack. In this interview, Mobashra Tazamal talks to Ahmed about Maya's timely journey, and how it speaks to both our fears of division and our hopes for the future.

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Jocelyne Cesari

Jocelyne Cesari is a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where her work focuses on Islam and world politics, and an associate professor of the practice of religion, peace, and conflict resolution in Georgetown's Department of Government. Her recent book Islam, Gender, and Democracy in Comparative Perspective critically engages the new discourse on gender and politics emerging since the Arab Awakening. In our latest interview, Natana DeLong-Bas asks about the origins of the project, and how it fits into a broader discussion of the future of Muslim-majority countries.

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Jörg Matthias Determann

Jörg Matthias Determann is an assistant professor of history in the Liberal Arts & Sciences Program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. His work has focused on global history in general, as well as the history of science and scholarship in Muslim-majority countries. His most recent works include Researching Biology and Evolution in the Gulf States: Networks of Science in the Middle East (I.B.Tauris, 2015) and Historiography in Saudi Arabia: Globalization and the State in the Middle East (I.B.Tauris, 2014). The editors of Oxford Islamic Studies Online had the opportunity to discuss recent developments in the Gulf States and how they will impact education, research, and international relations.

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Why ISIS? Why now?

The editors of Oxford Islamic Studies Online asked several experts the following question:

The world has watched as ISIS (ISIL, the “Islamic State”) has moved from being a small but extreme section of the Syrian opposition to a powerful organization in control of a large swath of Iraq and Syria. Even President Obama recently admitted that the U.S. was surprised by the success of ISIS in that region. Why have they been so successful, and why now?

We received responses from University of Chicago political scientist Robert A. Pape, sociologist Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, Brookings Institution fellow Shadi Hamid, and Lebanese journalist and editor Hanin Ghaddar.

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Raed Jarrar

Raed Jarrar is a political analyst and trained architect who serves as Communications Director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a civil rights organization committed to defending the rights of people of Arab descent and promoting Arab culture. In 2006, Jarrar gained national attention after being detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport for wearing a t-shirt with the words "We Will Not Be Silent" printed in English and Arabic, an incident that led to an unprecedented legal settlement in Jarrar's favor. In this interview with Chrystie Swiney (The College of William and Mary), Jarrar discusses the trajectory of his work since the incident, the state of civil rights for Muslim Americans, and the ongoing efforts of the ADC.

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Muhammad Omar Abd al-Rahman

Muhammad Omar Abd al-Rahman is the eldest son of Shaykh Omar Abd al-Rahman, the blind shaykh who led the Egyptian former militant Group al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group) before his arrest in 1993 in the United States. Muhammad spent most of his life outside of Egypt and shared the journey of many figures of contemporary Islamic militancy. He joined the Afghan jihad in 1988 before moving to Sudan in 1992 and returning to Afghanistan in 1996. Until 2001, he lived in Afghanistan with members of the Islamic Group and al-Qaeda. In 2001, he survived the U.S. invasion before his arrest in Pakistan in 2003. Eventually, Muhammad was subjected to the American rendition program and sent to jail in Egypt. He was finally released in 2010, a few months before the Egyptian revolution. He discusses his background here with Jérôme Drevon, PhD Candidate at Durham University.

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Nyla Ali Khan

Nyla Ali Khan is visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma, the author of The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism and Islam, Women, and the Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan, and editor of the essay collection The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity. In this interview with Natana DeLong-Bas (Boston College), Khan describes her efforts to incorporate the previously marginalized voices of women in political discourse. Khan's emphasis on the oral traditions of Jammu and Kashmir is aimed at subverting the traditional narratives of her native region, which, as she explains, have been distorted by competing interests.

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Corey Saylor

Corey Saylor is legislative director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and has more than a decade of nonprofit political communications, legislative advocacy, and media relations experience. In this interview with Chrystie Swiney (The College of William and Mary), Saylor discusses some of CAIR's ongoing efforts to protect the civil liberties of religious minorities in the United States.

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Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid is the author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. His award-winning fiction has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and translated into over 30 languages. His essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications. Born in 1971 in Lahore, he has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California.

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Zainah Anwar

As one of the founders of the Sisters in Islam (SIS), Zainah Anwar has been one of the leading feminist voices in the Islamic world for over two decades. Her advocacy work mirrors the mission statement of the SIS, which calls for an elimination of gender discrimination, increased public awareness of social justice issues, and a reframing of women's rights within an Islamic context. In this interview with Chrystie Swiney (The College of William and Mary), Anwar discusses the group's ongoing efforts, and how they have reached beyond Malaysia to influence similar movements in Muslim-majority countries.

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Khaled Salam

Khaled Salam is the editor in chief of Ikhwanweb, the official English website of the Muslim Brotherhood. In this interview with scholar Chrystie Swiney (The College of William and Mary), Salam discusses the Brotherhood's positions regading the major issues that have arisen from the Egyptian Revolution, namely women's rights, the separation of religion and state, and the need to establish a democracy that fairly represents the diversity of post-Mubarak Egypt.

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H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal

H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal (b. 15/10/1966) is a Professor in Islamic Philosophy and the nephew of the late King Al-Hussein bin Talal of Jordan. He has held a number of government positions within Jordan, and is the founder of numerous educational, diplomatic, and scholarly institutions and campaigns, including the Al-Balqa Applied University, the World Islamic Sciences and Education University, the National Park of the Site of the Baptism of Jesus Christ, and the Great Tafsir Project, the largest online project for the exegesis of the Holy Qur'an, among many others. In this interview Professor Tamara Sonn (The College of William and Mary) speaks with Prince Ghazi about his various academic and diplomatic pursuits, along with his latest book, Love in the Holy Qur'an (Kazi Books, 2011).

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