406 Weaver

Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA  16802

814-863-1338 (office); 814-863-7840 (fax)



Associate Professor of Religious Studies and History, teaching courses in Islamic history and religion, with research interests in: Islamic law; comparative religions; religious ethics; Arabic language and literature. 





1995:                Ph.D., with Distinction, Yale University, Religious Studies


1992:                M.Phil., Yale University, Religious Studies

(Additional graduate study at the American University in Cairo, Bourguiba Institute in Tunisia and Tübingen University).


1984:                B.A., with High Distinction, Valparaiso University, History






Islamic Ethics of Life: Abortion, War and Euthanasia. Editor and contributor.  Studies in Comparative Religion. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003 (reprint, 2005).

Reviewed in Library Journal 128.8 (May 1, 2003): 120; Middle East Journal 57.4 (Autumn 2003): 705; Nursing Philosophy 5.2 (July 2004); Religious Studies Review (October 2004); Choice “Outstanding Academic Title” (April, 2004).


Early Mālikī Law: Ibn cAbd al-Hakam and his Major Compendium of Jurisprudence.  Studies in Islamic Law and Society 14. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000.

Reviewed in Islamic Law and Society 9 (2002): 271-274; Journal of Islamic Studies 13 (2002): 42-49; Journal of the American Oriental Society 122 (2002): 91-93; Der Islam 80.1 (2003): 157-61.


Judaism and Islam in Practice: A Sourcebook.  Co-author with Jacob Neusner and Tamara Sonn.  London: Routledge, 2000.   

Reviewed in Choice 38 (2000): 348; Journal of Semitic Studies 48.1 (Spring, 2003), 109-121 (reprinted in Review of Rabbinic Judaism 6.2-3 [2003], 333-345).





“Theorizing Charismatic Authority in Early Islamic Law” article under review.


“The Minor Compendium of Ibn cAbd al-Hakam (d. 214/829) and its reception in the early Mālikī school.” Forthcoming in Islamic Law and Society.


 “Taking and saving life: The Islamic context” in Islamic Ethics of Life.  Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003, 1-19.


“The ‘good death’ in Islamic theology and law” in Islamic Ethics of Life.  Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003, 177-193.


“Jihad and Islamic History” in ARC, The Journal of the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, 30 (2002):191-210.  To be reprinted in Underlying Terror: Religious Studies Perspectives on the War on Terrorism, eds. Bryan Rennie and Philip L. Tite (forthcoming).


“Islamic Ethics of Saving Life: A comparative perspective” in Medicine and Law, 21 (2002):225-241.


“The Essential Sharia: Teaching Islamic law in the religious studies classroom” in Teaching Islam, ed. Brannon Wheeler.  New York: Oxford, 2002, 77-93.


“Competing Theories of Authority in early Mālikī Texts” in Studies in Islamic Legal Theory, ed. Bernard Weiss.  Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001, 3-22.


“Islam” in Death and the Afterlife, ed. Jacob Neusner. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2000, 60-78.


“Literary Genealogies from the Mosque-Library of Kairouan,” Islamic Law and Society 6 (1999): 393-402 (Review article of Beiträge zur Geschichte der Hadīth- und Rechtsgelehrsamkeit der Mālikiyya in Nordafrika bis zum 5. Jh. d.H. by Miklos Muranyi)


“Islam” in Women and Families, ed. Jacob Neusner. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1999, 1-25.


“Introduction” to the special issue entitled “The Islamic Ethics of Life,” The Muslim World 89 (1999): 117-121.


“Islam” in Evil and Suffering, ed. Jacob Neusner, Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1999, 120-141.


“Early Islamic Jurisprudence in Egypt: Two scholars and their Mukhtasars,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 30 (1998): 167-182.


“Re-reading the History of Early Mālikī Jurisprudence,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 118 (1998): 233-38.  (Review article of Das “K. al-Wādiha” des cAbd al-Malik b. Habīb: Edition und Kommentar zu Ms. Qarawiyyīn 809/40 (Abwāb al-Tahāra) by Beatrix Ossendorf-Conrad.)


“Islam” in Sacred Text and Authority, ed. Jacob Neusner, Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1998, 31-59.


“Islam” in God, ed. Jacob Neusner. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1997, 85-111.


“Sources for Studying Islam” in The Pilgrim Library of World Religions, ed. Jacob Neusner. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1997-2000, xx-xxiii.




“Slaves and Slavery” forthcoming in The Encyclopedia of the Qur'ān, ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe, et al. Leiden: E.J. Brill.


“Prisoners” in The Encyclopedia of the Qur'ān, 4 (2004): 276-78.


“Servants” in The Encyclopedia of the Qur'ān, 4 (2004): 576-80.


Mālik ibn Anas” in Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, ed. Richard C. Martin, et al.  New York: Macmillan, 2004, 2:426-27.


Sharia” in Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, 2:618-19.


 “Justice and Injustice” in The Encyclopedia of the Qur'ān, 3:69-74.


“Captives” and “Concubines” in The Encyclopedia of the Qur'ān, 1:289-90 and 1:396-97.





The development of exegesis in early Islam: the authenticity of Muslim literature from the formative period by Herbert Berg.”   Forthcoming in Islamic Law and Society.


“Islam in Black America: Identity, liberation, and difference in African-American Islamic thought by Edward E. Curtis IV.”  Forthcoming in Religious Studies Review.


Jewish and Islamic Law. A Comparative Study of Custom during the Geonic Period by Gideon Libson. Forthcoming in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam.


 A Magic Still Dwells: Comparative religion in the postmodern age edited by Kimberley Patton and Benjamin Ray.” Religious Studies Review 36 (2002): 227.


 Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography by Tayeb El-Hibri.”  Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 36.1 (2002): 83-84.


 Islamic Law: Theory and practice edited by Robert Gleave and Eugenia Kermeli.”  Law and Religion 15 (2001-02): 417-19.


Contingency in a Sacred Law: Legal and ethical norms in the Muslim Fiqh by Baber Johansen.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 121 (2001), 108-109.


The Origins of Islamic Law by Yasin Dutton” in Islamic Law and Society 7 (2000), 398-400.


The Formation of the Sunni Schools Of Law, 9th-10th Centuries C.E. by Christopher Melchert” in Religious Studies Review 26.1 (January, 2000): 107.


The Dual Nature Of Islamic Fundamentalism by Johannes J. G. Jansen” in Religious Studies Review 26.1 (January, 2000): 110-11.


A History of Islamic Legal Theories: An introduction to Sunnī  usūl al-fiqh  by Wael Hallaq” in The Middle East Journal, 53.4 (1999): 661-63.


Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and their fatwas, ed. Masud, Messick and Powers” in Religious Studies Review 24 (1998).                                                                                                 


Eunuchs and Sacred Boundaries in Islamic Society by Shaun Marmon” in Religious Studies Review, 23.2 (April, 1997): 200.


Der heilige Krieg (Ğihād) aus der Sicht der mālikitischen Rechtsschule by Mathias von Bredow” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, 117 (1997): 179-80.


Al-Maqasid by Noah Ha Mim Keller” in Religious Studies Review 22.4 (October, 1996): 356.




            “Understanding Islamic Ethics” in Centre Daily Times (State College, PA).  November, 1, 2004.

“Dancing with Death: Revisiting Martyrdom in an Era of Suicide Bombers” The Cresset 67.5 (June 2004): 17-23.

“Resources for Teaching Islam” (editor and contributor) Religious Studies News 17.2 (March, 2002), 9, 12 and 21.

 “Statement from Scholars of the Islamic Religion” (co-author) in Amerasia Journal 27:3 (2001): 277-280.

            “Viewpoint” in The Poughkeepsie Journal.  October 13, 2001.

            “Research Report” in The Fulbrighter (Cairo, Egypt), November, 2000.



Articles contracted for the Encyclopedia of Islam (third edition) on “Asad b. al-Furāt” “Asbagh b. al-Faraj” and “Ashhab b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz.”


Sahnūn b. Sa`īd.” Book chapter in preparation for Islamic Legal Thought: Jurists and their works, eds. Susan Spectorsky and David Powers.


The Charismatic Authority of the Muslim Scholar.  Book manuscript in preparation.


 “Islamic Medical Ethics: Case Studies.” International conference to be held at Penn State in April, 2006.




               2005:        Early Islamic law: A new text” to the American Oriental Society meeting in Philadelphia.
               2004:        Sahnun b. Sa'id and the Meaning of the Mudawwana” to the Middle East Studies Association national meeting in San Francisco.
                               Charismatic Authority in Islamic Traditions: the Weberian Paradigm Revisited” to be presented at Swarthmore College.


            2003:                “Dancing with Death: Revisiting Martyrdom in an Era of Suicide Bombers” at Valparaiso University as the 10th Warren G. Rubel Lecturer in Christian Higher Learning.


            2001:                “Islamic Ethics of Saving Life: A comparative perspective” to the International Conference on Islamic Medical Ethics.  Haifa, Israel.


            2000:                “Charisma and Legal Authority” to the Faculty Seminar, Bard College.


                                    “The Beginning of the Maliki School” (in Arabic) to the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tunis (Tunisia) and to the graduate seminar on Islamic law, University of Fez-Sais (Morocco).


                                    “The prayer for rain in al-Mukhtasar al-Saghīr by Ibn `Abd al-Hakam (d. 214/829)” to the closing conference of the Working Group on Islamic Law and the State, Institute for Advanced Study, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


            1999:                “Competing theories of authority in early Mālikī texts” to the Working Group on Islamic Law and the State, Institute for Advanced Study, the Hebrew University.


                        “The 'good death' in the classical Islamic sources” to the Middle East Studies Association in Washington, D.C.


“Theory or Theology: Understanding Mālikī  usūl al-fiqh” to a special conference on Islamic legal theory sponsored by the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.


            1997:                “A Mirror for Qādīs: the lives of cAbdallāh b. cAbd al-Hakam (d. 214/829) and Sahnūn b. Sacīd (d. 240/856)” presented to the Middle East Studies Association in San Francisco and the Second International Conference on Islamic Law in Granada, Spain.


                                    “MS Kairouan 14/94 and the puzzle of early Mālikī fiqh” to the Columbia Arabic Seminar, Columbia University.


            1996:                “The Authenticity of Mālik b. Anas' Juristic Dicta” to the American Oriental Society in Philadelphia.


                                    “Muslims in Dialogue with non-Muslims” to the Bard College conference on ecumenical dialogue, entitled “Inventing a Common Future.”


            1996:                “Slavery in the Qur'ān and in Early Islamic Society” to the American Academy of Religion in New Orleans.


            1994:                “The Development of the mukātab and the umm walad in Early Islamic Law” to the Workshop on Islamic Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


                                    “Early Debates in the Formation of Islamic Law: the Case of Slavery” to the American Academy of Religion in Chicago.


                                    “The Importance of cAbdallāh b. cAbd al-Hakam (d. 214/829) for the Early Mālikī School in Egypt” to the American Oriental Society in Madison, Wisconsin.


            1993:                “Paradox or Contradiction: Free Will and Determinism in the Qur'ān” to the Five College Religion Faculty Seminar, Northhampton, Massachusetts.




               2005:                       “Contested Images of Muslim Women” at the University of Kentucky President's Commission on Women annual retreat.
                                              “Visions of Peace and Justice in the Qur’an” at LaSalle College as part of their Diplomat in Residence Program.


            2004:                “Muslim perspectives on death and dying” Brown bag series, Department of Humanities, Penn State College of Medicine.

                                    “Islamic law: a new text” as part of the Penn State comparative literature luncheon series.

                                    “Jihad and Islamic History” as part of the War and Ethics lecture series, Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State

                                    “Islamic Ethics of Saving Life: A comparative perspective” as the “First Annual Distinguished Speaker in Comparative Religion” at the American University in Cairo.

                                    Maimonides in Historical Context” as part of the Penn State commemoration of Maimonides’ 800th death anniversary entitled “Maimonides the Blessed, Maimonides the Cursed – The Rambam: Still Controversial After 800 Years.”


               2003:        The History of the Qur'an: from compilation to canonization” as part of the Penn State Religious Studies lecture series.

                                    “Terrorism, Jihad and Islamic History” at Simon’s Rock College


            2002:                “Islamic Law, War, and Terrorism” at Skidmore College.

                                    “Jihad and Islamic History” at Sacred Heart University and Millsaps College.

                                    “The Rational Distribution of Scarce Resources in Islam” presented to the Bard College Economics Club.

                                    Presentations on Jihad and Islamic history at Riverside Church (New York City), Woodstock Jewish Congregation, Ulster County Interfaith Council.


            2001:                “Muslim understandings of Jihad” to Bard High School/ Early College and several other local venues, including: Millbrook Day School; Millbrook Academy.

                                    “Islamic Ethics of War and Peace” as part of Bard College Family Weekend and several other local venues including: Hudson Valley Ministerium.

                                    “Contested Images of Muslim Women” at Bard Conference “God and Sexuality.”


            2000:                Dawr al-Qur`ān ta`rīkh al-Islām wa-ta`rīkh al-lughat al-`arabiyya (The Role of the Qur’an in the History of Islam and the Arabic Language)” at Bard College.

                                    “Problems in manuscript research” at the Centre des Ètudes Maghrèbines à Tunis.


            1999:                “Compilation and canonization of the Qur'ān” at Tel Aviv and Syracuse Universities.

                                    “The Manuscript collections of Kairouan, Tunisia” at Ben Gurion University.

                                    “The Qur'an as a source for slavery in seventh-century Arabia” at Yale University.


            1998:                “Theological and political aspects of teaching Islam” at University of Washington.

                                    “Marking Space: mosque architecture in Cairo” at Marion College, Wisconsin.




            2005:                            Guest on “Odyssey” radio talk show (Public Radio International) to discuss “Religious Understandings of Suffering and Evil.”

                                                Background interview with Delia Lloyd, associate producer at Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ) on Religious Views of Education.


            2004:                            Quoted in three different stories in the Daily Collegian surrounding the third anniversary of 9/11.

                                                Interviewed by Janet Tu of the Seattle Times on Homosexuality and Islam.

                                                Interviewed by Christl Dabu, free-lance journalist, on the ethics of stem cell research.


               2003:                       Background interview with Susan Goldstein, producer for PBS program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

                                                “Islam: an interview with Jonathan E. Brockopp” by Henry Meiniger; Berkshire HomeStyle (January), 30-33.


            2002:                            Quoted in Orlando Sentinel article “Religion Revival” (September 24) by Mark Pinsky.

                                                Quoted in lead article for Newsweek on “Heaven” (August 12) by Lisa Miller, senior editor.

                                                Quoted in Poughkeepsie Journal article “Islam shares aspects of other major faiths” by Elizabeth Lynch (March 6)

                                                Radio Interview with KFAB in Omaha, Nebraska, in February – distributed nationally on the ABC radio network; Two Radio Interviews with WAMC (Albany NPR affiliate)

                                                Quoted in Boston Globe article “New interest in Islam has scholars busy” by Michael Paulson (January 26).


            2001:                            Post-September 11: Background information on Islam to numerous media outlets, including: Salt Lake City Tribune, Congressional Quarterly, Investors Business Daily.  Quoted in The Washington Post, New York Times, CBS radio and others.  Also, 25-minute discussion of bin Laden’s statements aired on Chicago Public Radio (“Worldview”), November 27.

                                                Quoted in Neue Züricher Zeitung, August, article on “Suicide and Euthanasia in Islam” by Eva Orthmann (reprinted September 15 as “The Hour of Death is in God’s hand alone”)

                                                Christian Science Monitor, Background information for March 15 article “Ancient Islamic texts to see light of Net” by Sarah Gauch.


            Other:                           Included on Religionsource (; official AAR media directory of 5,000 top religion scholars.

                                                Interview with Clio Magazine (Egypt) March, 2000

                                                Interview with WAMC (Albany NPR affiliate) October, 1996




Appointed to the Task Force on the Independent Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR)

               Editorial Board, Comparative Islamic Studies. London: Equinox.

            Presided over panel on “The Legacy of Franz Rosenthal” at the AAR meeting in Atlanta (2003).

Presided over panel on “Teaching Islam after September 11” at the AAR meeting in Toronto (2002).

Member of the international planning board for the Haifa (Israel) conference on Islamic Medical Ethics in 2001

Steering committee member for International Masters program in Middle East Studies at Ben Gurion University (Beersheva, Israel).

Guest Editor of a special edition of The Muslim World (April, 1999) devoted to Islamic ethics.

                        Reviewed in Arab Studies Quarterly 22 (2000): 114-116.

Organized panel for the AAR meeting in Orlando (1998): “The Islamic Ethics of Life: killing and saving;” co-sponsored by the sections on Islam and Ethics.

Manuscript review for Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Islamic Law and Society and for Yale University, University of Florida and Cambridge University Presses.

Fellowship proposal review for American Research Center in Egypt.




               Member, Graduate Placement Committee, History department (2004 to present)

            Co-chair, Middle East Studies Committee (2003 to present)

            Member, Graduate Affairs Committee, History department (2003 to present)

            Mock interviews for Rhodes and Marshall scholarships (Fall, 2003).





            2005:                Rock Ethics Institute Initiative Grant “Religious Ethics”


            2004:                Choice magazine “Outstanding Academic Title” awarded to Islamic Ethics of Life.


                                    International Programs Faculty Travel Grant to enhance course: “Cairo: microcosm of the Islamic world”


            2002:                Freeman Foundation grant to develop new course: “Islam in Asia”.

Guest professorship, Center for Religious Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (declined)


            2000:                Fulbright Senior Scholar award for research in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.


1999:                Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study, The Hebrew University; Fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education for study in Spain (declined); Social Studies Research Council grant (declined).


1996:                Bard College Faculty Research and Travel Grant for research in Tunisia.


1995:                American Research Center in Egypt fellowship for four months of research.


            1993-1994:        Prize dissertation fellowship from the Whiting Foundation.

            1993:                German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) stipend for study in Germany.

1990-1991:        Fulbright fellowship for study in Egypt.

1988-1993:        Yale University graduate fellowships; 1990, Henry Hart Rice fellowship for travel in the Middle East, Rotary Foundation fellowship (declined); 1984, Graduated from Valparaiso University “with High Distinction,” and with “Senior Honors”, associate of Christ College honors program, member of Phi Alpha Theta, History Honors Society. 




GERMAN          Fluent

ARABIC            Excellent command of both classical and Modern Standard Arabic, good conversational skills in several modern dialects

FRENCH           Excellent reading, moderate spoken

SPANISH          Good reading, moderate spoken

            HEBREW          Reading with dictionary

PERSIAN          Reading with dictionary





                        Member, International Connections Committee (2004-)

                        Co-chair of the section for the study of Islam (2000-2003)

                        Webmaster of Islam Section web page (1997-2001)

Islam Section Steering Committee (1996-2003)

Moderator of IslamAAR, on-line discussion group (since 1995)



Member of the Islamic Law Study Group (since 1994)


International Society for Islamic Legal Studies






            HIST 83s          The Arabian Nights in Islamic Cultural Perspectives (first-year seminar)

            RL ST 001        World Religions

            RL ST 107        Introduction to Islam

            RL ST 130        Western Religious Ethics

            RL ST 497a       Cairo as Microcosm of the Islamic World

            RL ST 597c       Feminism and Islam (cross-listed with Women’s Studies and History)




            1995-2003         Assistant Professor of Religion, Bard College

            Fall, 1994          Teaching assistant at Yale University

            1992-1993         Visiting lecturer at Amherst College, department of religion

            Fall, 1991          Adjunct assistant professor of history at Fairfield University

            1991-1992         Teaching assistant at Yale University