Ali S. Asani
Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Ali S. Asani is currently Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University. After completing his high school education in Kenya, he attended Harvard College, with a concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion, graduating summa cum laude in 1977. He continued his graduate work at Harvard in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, receiving his Ph.D. in 1984. Prof. Asani holds a joint appointment between the Study of Religion and NELC, where he is currently the chair. He also serves on the faculty of the Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. He has served on the Committee on the Study of Religion since 1992 and has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of languages such as Urdu/Hindi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Swahili as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition.
Besides his various language courses, he teaches Culture and Belief 19: Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies; Culture and Belief 12: For the Love of God and His Prophet: Religion, Literature and the Arts in Muslim Societies; Religion 1802: An introduction to the Islamic mysticism: the Sufi tradition; Religion 1820: Islam in South Asia: Religion, Culture and Identity in South Asian Muslim Societies; Freshman Seminar 37y: Muslim Voices in Contemporary World Literatures. He directs the university's Ph.D. program in Indo-Muslim Culture.
In addition to his specialization in the Muslim literatures of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Prof. Asani is also interested in Shiism, Sufism and popular or folk forms of Muslim devotional life, and Muslim communities in the West.
His books include The Bujh Niranjan: An Ismaili Mystical Poem; The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in Indic Literatures: A Descriptive Catalog and Finding Aid; Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Muslim Devotional Poetry (co-author); Al-Ummah: A Handbook for an Identity Development Program for North American Muslim Youth; Ecstasy and Enlightenment: The Ismaili Literature of South Asia, and Let's Study Urdu: An Introduction to the Urdu Script and Let's Study Urdu: An Introductory Course (co-author).
Professor Asani is on leave Fall 2016; he will be teaching in Spring 2017.
The Study of Religion
12 Quincy St.
Cambridge MA 02138