Alyssa Gabbay

Assistant Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ph.D., University of Chicago 
Office Hours: Wednesdays 12-3pm 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?



Gender and Succession in Medieval and Early Modern Islam: Bilateral Descent and the Legacy of Fatima. London: I.B. Tauris, forthcoming in February 2020.

The New Moon of Perfection and Other Prefaces. Under advance contract with Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press.

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

“Splitting Hairs and Trimming Tresses: Translating Amīr Khusraw’s Persian Locks into An American ‘Do.” In Middle Eastern Literatures 19, no. 3 (2016), pp. 316–324.

“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

“Fatima’s Khutba: An Early Case of Female Religious Authority in Islam.” In Female Religious Authority in Shi’i Islam, ed. Mirjam Kuenkler and Devin Stewart. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press/New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

“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

FMS 142 Women, Autobiography, and Islam

REL 225 Introduction to Islam

REL 226 Approaches to the Qur’an

REL 323 Islam’s Mystical Tradition

REL 370 Religions of Iran