Ramadan, Islamic and Arab Experts

This week, followers of the faith of Islam will begin to celebrate Ramadan, one of the religion's most important observances, which will continue through Sept. 20. Scholars at The University of Texas at Austin are available to discuss the Islamic faith, history and culture, and the Arab world from a variety of perspectives.

Islamic History
Kamran Scot Aghaie
Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Aghaie teaches courses on the prophets of Islam, the Quran and Islamic mysticism and spirituality. He is the author of "The Women of Karbala: The Gender Dynamics of Ritual and Performances and Symbolic Discourses of Modern Shi'i Islam" and "The Martyrs of Karbala: Shi'i Symbols and Rituals in Modern Iran."

Understanding of the Veil
Faegheh (Fawn) Shirazi
Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Shirazi studies material culture and its influence on gender identity in Muslim societies. She is the author of "The Veil Unveiled: The Hijab in Modern Culture," which reveals the political, religious and cultural significance of the veil, and the forthcoming book "Velvet Jihad: Muslim Women's Quiet Resistance to Islamic Fundamentalism." Learn more in the feature story "Behind the Veil."

Arabic Language
Kristen Brustad
Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Mahmoud Al-Batal
Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Director, Center for Arabic Study Abroad

The phrase "Arab world," which refers to people who speak Arabic as their first language, is often misused, mistakenly viewed as synonymous with the Muslim world. Brustad and Al-Batal educate students about many of the assumptions Westerners hold about religion and culture in the Middle East. Learn more about their research and teaching in the feature story "Translating the Arab World."

Arabic Literature and Islamic Culture
Samer Ali
Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Ali teaches courses on Arabic literature, art, culture and politics. He is interested in Islamic religion, Qur'an, women and gender in Islam, and Arabo-Islamic history and civilization. He is the author of the forthcoming book, "Arabic Literary Salons in the Islamic Middle Ages."

Modern Arab Intellectual History
Yoav Di-Capua
Assistant Professor, Department of History

Di-Capua researches Arab intellectual history, including modernism and the rejection of modernism in 20th-century Arab thought.

Modern Arabic Literature
Tarek El-Ariss
Assistant Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

El-Ariss teaches and writes about Modern Arabic literature, with special interests in modernity, encounters with the West, new media, new writers and cinema.

The Spread of Islam in South Asia
Syed Akbar Hyder
Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies
Director, Islamic Studies Program

Though Islam is often associated with the Middle East, the majority of Muslims live in Asia and India. Hyder can discuss the role of Islam in South Asia, Shiism, Islamic mysticism (Sufism), and Urdu language and literature.

Gender, Family Planning and Islam
Kamran Ali
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Ali is the author of "Planning the Family in Egypt: New Bodies, New Selves" and the forthcoming book "Gendering Urban Space in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa." He studies urban social history in the Middle East, as well as gender and health issues in the Muslim world.

Women and Islam and Islamic Law
Hina Azam
Assistant Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Azam teaches courses in Islamic studies and Islamic law, and researches the role of women in Islam. She also can discuss patriarchy in Muslim societies.

Women in Islamic Societies
Mounira Charrad
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Charrad's research addresses women's rights, Islamic law and citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa. She is the author of "States and Women's Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco." Her research has earned support from the Mellon Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.

Women in Islamic History
Gail Minault
Professor, Department of History

Minault studies the history of India, including religion and politics, and intellectual and social history. She is the author of "Secluded Scholars: Women's Education and Muslim Reform in Colonial India" and editor of "The Extended Family: Women and Political Participation in India and Pakistan."

Denise Spellberg
Associate Professor, Department of History

Spellberg teaches courses on Middle East history and religion, and gender in Islamic history. She is the author of "Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past."

Middle Eastern Politics
Jason Brownlee
Assistant Professor, Department of Government

Brownlee has studied authoritarian rule in the Middle East region and is researching leadership succession and the prospects of foreign nations imposing political change. For his book, "Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization," he drew upon his research in Egypt, Iran, Malaysia and the Philippines to explain the varying fates of autocratic rulers who experimented with multi-party elections.