Current Resident Scholar
Dr. Aasim Padela
Dr. Aasim Padela is the Director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Emergency Medicine, and a faculty member at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.
Dr. Padela holds an MD from Weill Cornell Medical College, completed residency in emergency medicine at the University of Rochester, and received an MSc in Healthcare Research from the University of Michigan. His Islamic studies expertise comes via a BS in Classical Arabic from the University of Rochester, seminary studies during his formative years, and continued tutorials with traditionally-trained Islamic authorities.
Dr. Padela is a clinician-researcher and bioethicist whose scholarship lies at the intersection of community health and religion. He utilizes diverse methodologies from health services research, religious studies, and comparative ethics to examine the encounter of Islam with contemporary biomedicine through the lives of Muslim patients and clinicians, and in the scholarly writings of Islamic authorities. Through systematic research and strategic interventions, he seeks (1) to improve American Muslim health outcomes and healthcare experiences, and (2) to construct a multidisciplinary field of Islamic bioethics.
As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar from 2008-2011 he developed a community-based research methodology to study and intervene upon American Muslim health disparities. In 2010, as a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies he studied Islamic moral and theological frameworks, and from 2013 to 2015 as a Templeton Foundation Scholar he led a national survey of Muslim physicians’ bioethical attitudes and professional experiences. His current projects span Muslim attitudes and behaviors related to cancer screening and end-of-life care, and the intersection of science and Islamic theology and law, and are funded by the Templeton Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
“The Essential Dimensions of Human Health and Well-Being in Light of the Maqāsid al-Sharīʿah”
During my tenure at IIIT in Fall 2016, I will conduct research into the compatibility of leading theories of maqāsid al-sharīʿah for addressing the philosophical and ethical challenges of contemporary biomedicine. Specifically I will examine whether classical and modern valuations of the essential (ḍarūri), necessary (ḥājī) and embellishing (taḥsinī) dimensions and/or means of the maqāsid ofreligion, life, intellect, lineage, and property can fund a holistic conception of human health and well-being and thereby a theologically-rooted philosophy for biomedical practice and healthcare policy. Additionally, I will examine whether classically proposed prioritization schema for the “interests” reflected in the maqāsid frameworks can provide ethico-legal guidance for challenges faced in end-of-life healthcare provision.
Previous Resident Scholars
Dr. Asaad Al-Saleh
Dr. Asaad Al-Saleh is Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature, Comparative Literature, and Cultural Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Indiana University. His research examines personal narratives in Arabic literature, particularly modern Palestinian autobiographies, dealing with issues related to identity and displacement. His interest in narratives demonstrating the intersection of Arabic literature and political culture resulted in the publication of his book, Voices of the Arab Spring: Personal Stories from the Arab Revolutions (Columbia University Press, 2015). He teaches Arabic Literature courses and classical Islamic texts in Arabic and English, with expertise in Arab Spring, Autobiography, and Literary Theory. In addition to scholarly writing, he contributes opinion pieces in Arabic on political, cultural and religious issues in war-torn Syria, where he was born and raised.
“ISIS and Islam: How a Terrorist Ideology Twists Religion”
The book project will examine the roots as well as the manifestations of the extremist thinking of ISIS, and the ways in which this group imposes its methods of interpretation on the religion of Islam. It presents cases of such interpretations that ISIS applies while misquoting Islamic texts, taking them out of context, and rejecting the accompanying tools of understanding that Muslim scholars had already established. In this case, ISIS is posing an intellectual danger as its recruitment methods integrate Islamic symbols and narratives to seek legitimacy for whatever atrocities it commits. The book will deconstruct these misleading hermeneutical practices that are regularly inconsistent with Islamic practices or with the traditional methods of understanding Islamic texts. While unveiling ISIS’s ideology and its selectiveness in designing a terrifying authority, the book provides the alternative hermeneutics and textual analysis that Muslim scholars developed to counter, refute, and warn against extremist practices and the ideologies that inform them. I will also argue for renewing some hermeneutics, since they could be easily misused by literalist readings that apply fixed, universal meanings to texts that were meant to be read according to their historical contexts.
Dr. SherAli Tareen
Dr. SherAli Tareen is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster PA. He received his PhD in Religion/Islamic Studies at Duke University and his BA at Macalester College. His work centers on Muslim intellectual thought in modern South Asia with a focus on intra-Muslim debates and polemics on crucial questions of law, ethics, and theology. He is currently completing a book project entitled “Polemical Encounters: Competing Imaginaries of Tradition in Modern South Asian Islam” that explores polemics over the boundaries of heretical innovation (bid‘a) among leading 19th century Indian Muslim ‘Ulama.’ His articles have appeared in the Journal of Law and Religion, Muslim World, Political Theology, and Islamic Studies. His academic publications can be found at http://fandm.academia.edu/SheraliTareen.
“Islam and the Ethics of Authenticity: Tradition, Reform, Innovation”
Islam and the Ethics of Authenticity investigates intra-‘Ulama’ contestations over the definition and boundaries of authenticity in modern Islam. The primary theater that occupies this book is that of Muslim scholarly discourses and contestations in 19th century India. The 19th century represented a hinge moment in the narrative of South Asian Islam. After more than 600 years of political rule, the Muslims of India saw themselves confronted by the new conditions and political reality of foreign colonialism. However, the loss of political sovereignty did not translate into intellectual decline. To the contrary, the onset of British colonialism catalyzed an unprecedented degree of intellectual fermentation among the Indian Muslim scholarly elite. Indian Muslim scholars responded to the moral and political anxieties of colonial modernity by articulating a variety of intellectual programs to reform Islam as a discursive and lived tradition. But as the urgency for religious reform enveloped Indian ‘Ulama,’ so too did internal disagreements and polemics over the critical question of what such reform should mean and entail. This book documents and analyzes one such narrative of internal contestation that occupied certain towering 19thcentury Indian ‘Ulama.’ More specifically, this book is the first comprehensive treatment in the Euro-American academy of arguably the most long-running and contentious polemical battles in the intellectual history of modern South Asian Islam: the Barelvi-Deobandi polemic.
Dr. Mustafa Gökçek
Past Resident Scholar
Dr. Mustafa Gökçek is an Associate Professor of History at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. Dr. Gökçek studied Russian language in Moscow and then pursued his Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation focused on Muslim intellectuals from Russia who migrated to Istanbul in early twentieth century and actively engaged in the intellectual discussions on Islam and Turkish nationalism. His research interest includes contemporary social movements in Muslim societies. Dr. Gökçek currently teaches courses on the history of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East, Russia, and Central Asia. He is also the director of master’s program in Interdisciplinary Studies at Niagara University.
Dr. Gökçek was resident scholar at IIIT from September - December, 2014. The title of his research was: "Late Ottoman Discourses on Nationalism and Islam and the Contributions of the Muslims of Russia."