Faculty & Staff


Alyssa Gabbay

Alyssa Gabbay

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Office Hours: Wednesdays 3:30-5pm and by appointment

Areas of Academic Interest

  • Gender and Islam
  • Shi‘ism
  • Pre-modern Sufism
  • Indo-Persian Culture
  • Religious Pluralism

Personal Statement

As a specialist in Islamic studies, I investigate the development of medieval Islamic thought from an historical perspective, and analyze how social and political factors gave rise to widely divergent ideologies. My first book explored the development of pluralism in Islam in South Asia through the works of a thirteenth-century poet, Amir Khusraw. It deals with questions of religious tolerance and demonstrates how an Islamic culture arose in India that accommodated many aspects of Hinduism. I am currently at work on two separate book projects. The New Moon of Perfection and Other Prefaces (under advance contract with the Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press), consists of translations and critical editions of the prefaces to Amir Khusraw’s books of poetry. The second project addresses bilateral descent in Islam by analyzing hadith literature and early medieval hagiographical works about Fatima, daughter of the Prophet. How does Fatima embody, for Shi‘is, the concept that a woman can perpetuate her birth family’s lineage – an understanding of kinship that was by no means universal in pre-modern societies? How did medieval Muslim thinkers draw on the example of Fatima to support claims of descent from both males and females?



Islamic Tolerance: Amīr Khusraw and Pluralism. London: Routledge, 2010; reviewed in International Journal of Middle East Studies

Journals (Special Issues)

“Fathers and Daughters in Islam: Spiritual Inheritance and Succession Politics.” Co-editor (with Julia Clancy-Smith), foreword, and article. Special issue, Journal of Persianate Studies 4, no. 1 (2011).

Journal Articles

“In Reality a Man: Sultan Iltutmish, His Daughter, Raziya, and Gender Ambiguity in Thirteenth Century Northern India.” In “Fathers and Daughters in Islam: Spiritual Inheritance and Succession Politics,” ed. Alyssa Gabbay and Julia Clancy-Smith. Special issue, Journal of Persianate Studies 4, no. 1 (2011), pp. 45-63.

“Love Gone Wrong, Then Right Again: Male/Female Dynamics in the Bahrām Gūr-Slave Girl Story.” In “Love and Desire in Pre-Modern Persian Poetry and Prose,” ed. Dominic Brookshaw. Special Issue, Iranian Studies 42, no. 5 (2009), pp. 677-692.

Book Chapters

“Establishment of Centers of Indo-Persian Court Poetry.” In A History of Persian Literature, ed. Ehsan Yarshater et al., vol. 9. New York: I.B. Tauris, forthcoming.

“‘In Praise of One of the Deeply Learned Ulama’: A Mysterious Poem by Qājār Court Poet Mīrzā Habīb Allāh Shīrāzī Qā’ānī.” In The Necklace of the Pleiades, ed. Franklin Lewis and Sunil Sharma, 131–48. Amsterdam and West Lafayette, IN: Rozenberg Publishers and Purdue University Press, 2007.

Recent Courses

REL 225 Introduction to Islam
REL 251 Topics in Religious Social Ethics: The Qur’an
FMS 142 Women, Autobiography, and Islam
REL 323 Islam’s Mystical Tradition

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