|Associate Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religions
Address: Department of Religion
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 the Shi‘ite expression of Islam. His research is heading in the direction of inter and intra-religious convergence. Dr. Gaiser nurtures an additional interest in Islam in an American context.
- 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
- When Our Skulls Lie in Dust Like Rotten Melons: Shurāt Literature and Early Ibādī Identity
Abstract: When Our Skulls Lie in Dust like Rotten Melons offers a non-Sunni, non-Shi‘ite perspective on the question of martyrdom in the early Islamic period. Given current interest in martyrdom, the book offers a way to access the progression of the martyrdom genre among some of its earliest – and most militant – Muslim proponents, the Khārijites, as well as among their sole-surviving and quietist inheritors, the Ibādiyya. When Our Skulls Lie in Dust like Rotten Melons accordingly investigates early Khārijite and Ibādī martyrdom literature in its late antique context, tracing its developmental arc from the earliest poetic and narrative renditions on the Khārijite shurāt through their appropriation and subsequent institutionalization by the Ibādiyya. Utilizing rarely accessed sources – especially Khārijite poetry and early Ibādī epistles – the book will make an important contribution to our understanding of the early Khārijites and Ibādiyya and to conceptualizing the historical patterning of martyrdom in Islamic communities.
- Muslims, Scholars, Soldiers: The Origin and Elaboration of the Ibadi Imamate Traditions
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)
- “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 Historical 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.
- History of Islam
- Islamic Sectarianism
- Islam in Europe and North America
REL3363 Islamic Traditions (Honors)
REL 3363 Islamic Traditions is a historical and topical survey of Islam as a religion and civilization that focuses on the formative and classical periods of Islamic history. The course is primarily concerned with: the life and career of Muhammad the Prophet of Islam, the scriptural sources of Islam (i.e. the Qur’an and the Sunna), the development of the Muslim community and its principle institutions (schools of thought, law, theology, cultural life and mystical traditions). The course will acquaint you with significant aspects of Islam as a religion, and to help you think through some of the basic questions of human religious experience in light of the responses given to those questions by the great sages and saints of the Islamic tradition. This course is restricted to Honors students only.
REL4304/5305 Muhammad and the Qur’an
REL 4304/5305, Muhammad and the Qur’an, examines the early biography (sira) of the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, as well as the Qur’an, the sacred scripture of the Muslims. The course uses primary sources in conjunction with source critical secondary literature to explore contemporary scholarly debates surrounding the historical Muhammad and the field of Qur’anic studies.
REL3367 Islamic Traditions II: Islam in the Modern World
REL 3367, Islam in the Modern Period 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, 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.
REL4369/5368 Islam in North America
REL 4369/5368, Islam in North America, surveys in seminar format the manifestations of Islam in the United States, as well as American perceptions of Islam and Muslims. Beginning with the early 18th century, the course examines early American attitudes toward Muslims, and then moves to the experience of Islam among African-Americans. The latter third of the course is devoted to the assimilation of Muslim immigrants in the US, and how the issues of race, gender, "trans-nationalism" and stereotypes impact the American Muslim community.