Associate Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religions
Research Areas : Islamic Studies; Islamic Sectarianism; Kharijites; Ibadites; Martyrdom
Address: Department of Religion
641 University Way
P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Office: M07 Dodd Hall
Office Hours: By Appointment
Adam Gaiser (Ph.D. ’05, University of Virginia, History of Religions) teaches courses in Islamic studies. His research focuses on the development of early Kharijites and Ibadiyya, especially on how these groups negotiated their identity among in the context of Arabian, Mesopotamian and North African cultural-religious settings. Dr. Gaiser also teaches courses on Shi‘ism, Islam in North America, Islamic Law, the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an.
- Early Islamic Sectarianism: Kharijites, Ibadites and Shi‘ites
- Islamic and Eastern Christian Conceptions of Martyrdom
- Early Islamic Spain and North Africa
- Islam in Europe and the Americas
Current Research Projects
The Umma Divided: Islamic Sects and Schools (Contracted: Cambridge University Press)
Abstract: This study aims to provide digests of the major historical sectarian divisions among Muslims – the Shī‘a, Khawārij and Ibāḍiyya, Mu‘tazila and Murji`a and the Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jamā‘a – while simultaneously offering a critical discussion of sectarianism in the Islamic world. The chapters of this book aim to present concrete sectarian groups while refracting the concept of sect through various lenses (i.e. sect as allegiance, protest, theology, and as majority). Framing the central chapters on sectarian groups will be opening chapters devoted to the concept of sect and the early history of Islamic sectarianism. Closing chapters will deal with recent developments: the colonial and modern use of the concept of sect and an evaluation of contemporary sectarian divisions. Although the work takes medieval heresiographical categories as its starting point it intends to broaden its scope in the final chapters to include newer sectarian movements and questions about what groups might or might not “count” as a sect.
Guest Edited Journal Issue
- (with Miriam Ali de Unzaga) “Facets of Exchange between North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula,” The Journal of North African Studies (Spain-North African Project Special Issue), 19/1.
- “Teacher Lines in al-Qalhati’s al-Kashf wa’l-Bayan: The Accumulation of a Medieval Ibāḍī Identity,” in The Muslim World 105/2 (2015): 157-162.
- “Slaves and Silver across the Strait of Gibraltar: Politics and Trade between Umayyad Iberia and Khārijite North Africa,” in Medieval Encounters (Spain North-Africa Project Special Issue), 19 (2013): 41-70.
- “The Kharijites in Contemporary Scholarship,” in Oxford Bibliographies Online, 35 (2013).
- “Tracing the Ascetic Life and Very Special Death of Abu Bilal: Martyrdom and Early Ibadi Identity,” in Angeliki Ziaka (Ed.), On Ibadism (pp. 59-72). Hildesheim: George Olms Verlag, 2013.
- “North African and Omani Ibādī Accounts of the Munāzara: A Preliminary Comparison,” in Cyrille Alliet (Ed.), L'ibādisme: une minorité au cœur de l'islam (pp. 63-73). Aix-en-Provence: Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée, 2012.
- (Review) “Ibādism: Origins and Early Development in Oman,” in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 39 (2012): 467-477.
- “What do we Learn about the Early Khārijites and Ibāḍiyya from their Coins?” in Journal of the American Oriental Society 103/2 (2011): 167-187.
- “The Ibāḍī ‘Stages of Religion’ Re-examined: Tracing the History of the Masālik al-Dīn,” in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 73/2 (2010): 207-22.
- “Source-Critical Methodologies in Recent Scholarship on the Khārijites,” in History Compass 7/5 (2009): 1376-90.
- “Satan’s Seven Specious Arguments: al-Shahrastānī’s Kitāb al-Milal wa’l-Nihal in an Ismā‘īlī Context,” in Journal of Islamic Studies 19/2 (2008): 178-195
REL3367 Islam to Modern World
REL 3367, Islam up to the Modern World examines Islam and its adherents from 1300 CE to the present, concentrating on the last two centuries of Islamic history: the period of reform, renewal and revolution in the wake of Western political and cultural domination. The course will investigate a basic question: What happened to different Muslim communities and intellectuals (specifically those in the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, and West Africa) as they responded to the challenges posed by “Westernization” and “modernization?” Moreover, it will explore the relatively new phenomenon of Islam in America. The class concludes with an investigation of various contemporary debates in the Islamic world, including Sufism, and American/Western responses to Islam and Muslims. Meets Liberal Studies: Cultural Practice (LS-CUL) and Diversity in Western Experience (DIV-YWE).
REL4304-3 / RLG5305-3 SEM: Qur’anic Studies
This seminar examines scholarship on the Qur’an, the sacred scripture of the Muslims. It combines readings in primary sources in conjunction with source critical secondary literature to explore contemporary scholarly debates surrounding traditional and revisionist approaches to Qur’anic studies, as well as Qur’anic interpretation, recitation and education.
IFS2019 Heretics, Rebels and Militants
This e-series honors seminar evaluates the topics of Islamic sectarianism and denominationalism by tracing the main sectarian movements among medieval and modern Muslims. Students will engage in broad, critical and creative thinking about the creation of orthodoxy and heresy, the development of religious differences, the interaction between politics, culture and religion, and the issue of religious violence. They will gain knowledge and critical thinking skills that will assist them as they navigate a range of perspectives and trajectories related to the world’s many different Muslims. Meets Liberal Studies E-Series/Honors E-Series (LS-E/HLS-E), LS History (LS-HIS), and Diversity: Cross Cultural Studies (DIV-XCC).
REL 4304-1 SEM. History of Rel.: The Prophet Muhammad
Examines the figure of the Prophet Muḥammad from three distinct angles: as example for the Islamic community (i.e. as a focal point of sunna); as subject of biographical writings (i.e. the sīra); and as a person worthy of respect (i.e. as recipient of ṣalawāt). It combines readings in primary sources in conjunction with source critical secondary literature to explore contemporary scholarly debates surrounding the figure of the Prophet and his memory among Muslims.
RLG5305-1 SEM: History of Rel: The Prophet Muhammad
RLG 5305 examines the figure of the Prophet Muḥammad from three distinct angles: as example for the Islamic community (i.e. as a focal point of sunna); as subject of biographical writings (i.e. the sīra); and as a person worthy of respect (i.e. as recipient of ṣalawāt). It combines readings in primary sources in conjunction with source critical secondary literature to explore contemporary scholarly debates surrounding the figure of the Prophet and his memory among Muslims.