Dr. Homayra Ziad


Yale University – New Haven, CT. (1998 – 2008)
Ph.D., Religious Studies (Islamic Studies) (2008)
M.Phil., Religious Studies (2002)
M.A., International Relations, Yale Center for International and Area Studies (2000)

Bryn Mawr College – Bryn Mawr, PA. (1997)
B.A., Economics Honors


Quest of the Nightingale: The Religious Thought of Khwajah Mir Dard (1721-1785)
My dissertation is the first comprehensive exploration of the life and religious thought of the Sufi theologian and religious reformer Khwajah Mir Dard of Delhi. A beloved Urdu poet and unique representative of the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi lineage, Dard’s intellectual career encompassed several significant trends of his period: the religious reform impulse, the intellectual rise of the Mujaddidis, debates over Ibn `Arabi and Akbarian views of reality, the influence of Illuminationist philosophy in India, and the development of Urdu as a literary language. My dissertation analyzes and presents the key ideas of Dard’s epistemology, ontology, theology and practical ethics as expounded in his major Persian works, `Ilm al-Kitab and Chahar Risalat. I argue that Dard was a sophisticated religious theorist with an ambitious interpretive project: to integrate several key ontological, epistemological and practical Islamic discourses into a meta-discourse functioning within a Naqshbandī framework of contemplative practice.

Dissertation Committee: Gerhard Bowering (advisor), Frank Griffel, Beatrice Gruendler


Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, Trinity College Fall 2008 – current

  • The Religion of Islam
  • Sufism: The Mystical Tradition of Islam
  • Approaching the Qur’an
  • Islam in America
  • Humor in the Islamic Tradition

Language Instructor, Yale Directed Independent Language Study Fall 2007

  • Urdu (reading, writing)

Instructor, Yale Summer Session July-August 2007

  • The Religion of Islam

Teaching Assistant, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University Jan-Feb 2007

  • World Religions (Hinduism)

Teaching Assistant, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University Fall 2001 – Spring 2002

  • Islam Today: Jihad and Fundamentalism
  • Muhammad and the Qur’an

Instructor, Noor School, West Haven, Connecticut Oct 1999 – May 2000

  • Teaching simple Arabic reading/writing to young girls from the local community.

Teaching Assistant, Department of Economics, Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College Spring 1997

  • Introductory Micro-Economics and Introductory Macro-Economics


Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“Poetry, Music and the Path of Muhammad: How Khvajah Mir Dard brought three worlds together in eighteenth-century Delhi,” Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (forthcoming)

“Grassroots Scriptural Reasoning on Campus,” (co-written with Peter Ochs) Journal of Inter-religious Dialogue Issue 4 (June 2010)

“Women and Islam” in Essays on Islam, ed. Roger Allen and Shawkat Toorawa (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 2011) (forthcoming)

“I transcend myself like a melody: Khwajah Mir Dard and the Art of Sama‘ in Eighteenth-century Delhi,”
Muslim World, Special Issue on Qawwali Volume 97 Issue 4 (Hartford: Hartford Seminary, 2007)

“The Nature and Art of Discourse in the Religious Writings of Khwajah Mir Dard,” The Annual of Urdu Studies (Wisconsin: University of Madison, 2005), 145-165

Encyclopedia Articles

“Liberation Theology,” Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, ed. Gerhard Bowering (Princeton University Press, 2010) (in preparation)

“Andalib, Khwaja Muhammad,” Encyclopedia of Islam Third Edition, eds. Gudrun Kramer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, and Everett Rowson (accepted for publication)

“Banu Israil,” “Battle of Badr,” “Silsilah,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, ed. John L. Esposito (Oxford University Press, 2008)

“Mahmud of Ghazna,” Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, Volume 2, ed. Joseph W. Meri, (New York: Routledge, 2006), 458

“Ghaznavids,” Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1, ed. Joseph W. Meri, (New York: Routledge, 2006), 293-294


The Legacy of Kabir Fall 2006
Contributed research notes and poetical translations from Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Persian of the India medieval Bhakti poet Kabir, as well as other Sufi poets, for a documentary film and audio CD project led by director Shabnam Virmani, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, India. (http://kabirproject.org/)

“Downplaying Religion in Mumbai” and “What is Lashkar?” in Religion in the News, Winter 2009, Vol. 11, No. 3


Steering Committee Member, Study of Islam, American Academy of Religion Current
Executive Board Member, Association of Asian American Yale Alumni Current
Chair of Students and On-Campus Affairs Committee.

Member, Trinity College General Education Faculty Committee Current

Member, Trinity Community Learning Initiatives Advisory Group Current

Participant, Workshop: Qur’anic Reading and Reasoning: Rethinking Approaches to the Sacred June 2010
Text , Ali Vural Ak Center for Islamic Studies, George Mason University

Fellow, American Academy of Religion Summer Seminars (Theologies of Religious Pluralism 2009-2010
Comparative Theology) – Union Theological Seminary, Catholic Theological Union

Participant, Center for Teaching and Learning New Faculty Seminar, Trinity College 2008-2009

Referee, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Fall 2008

Participant, Urdu Poetry in Society, Johns Hopkins School of Area and International Studies Summer 2005 Seminar on the history and development of Urdu poetry with Dr. Moazzam Siddiqi, Director, South and Central Asia Division, Voice of America.

Participant, Seminar, KARAMAH (Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights), Washington, DC. July 2003 Intensive course with Dr. Aziza al-Hibri and Sana Effendi, a scholar of Islamic law, on Muslim sacred sources and legal traditions with relevance to advocating for women and women’s issues.

Co-founder, academic committee member, Yale Critical Islamic Reflections conference 2001-2008 Annual national academic conference on Islam in the United States (website: www.yale.edu/cir).

Co-director, Yale Islam in the Modern Day Colloquium 2000 – 2002
A popular weekly lunch colloquium for graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and visitors at Yale, with presentations and discussions on relevant political, social and religious issues in the modern Muslim world. Presenters ranged from Yale students and faculty to community activists and renowned visiting scholars such as Dr. Abdul-Karim Soroush.

Co-founder, Yale South Asian Graduate/Professional Association (SAGA) 2000 – 2002
An association built on the premise of peace and mutual cooperation among South Asians and South Asian nations. SAGA sponsored/organized speakers and panels on timely issues relating to South Asian studies, and created a venue for South Asian graduates, professionals and community members to meet and network.


“The Qur’an Commentaries of `Abd al-Majid Daryabadi (1892-1977),”American Academy of Religion annual meeting (upcoming, October 2010)

“Abd al-Majid Daryabadi’s Safar-e-Hejaz,” Middle East Studies Association annual meeting (upcoming, November 2010)

“Khwajah Mir Dard’s Contribution to the Debates on God’s Unity in Eighteenth-century North India,”
American Academy of Religion annual meeting (November 2008)

“Illuminationist Trends in the Religious Thought of the Naqshbandi Scholar Khwajah Mir Dard of Delhi (d. 1785),” American Oriental Society annual meeting (March 2008)

“I transcend myself like a melody: Khwajah Mir Dard and the Art of Sama‘ in Eighteenth-century Delhi,”
American Academy of Religion annual meeting (November 2005)

“”Clear Magic”: The Text According to Khwajah Mir Dard,” Sufi Texts, Sufi Contexts, Northwestern University (June 2007) (invited)

“The Cultured World of Naqshbandi Khwajah Mir Dard: Valorizing Literature and Music,”
Moving Literatures: Literary Transformation in Islamicate South Asia, North Carolina State University (March 2006) (invited, paper presented in absence)

“I transcend myself like a melody: Khwajah Mir Dard and the Art of Sama‘ in Eighteenth-century Delhi,”
Pan-Asian Music Festival and Conference, Stanford University (February 2006) (invited)


“Wherever you turn, there is the Face of God: Dimensions of Islamic Spirituality”, Academy of Lifelong Learning, Trinity College (February 2010)

“The Study of Muslim Identity in America”, Hartford Consortium of Higher Education (Network of Religion Professors), Hartford Seminary (October 2009)

Discussant, “Historical Contexts & Meanings of Reform” (Panelists: Richard Bulliet, David Robinson, Charles Kurzman) Islam: The Politics of Reform Symposium, Macmillian Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society, Yale University (March 2008)

Workshop on the Poetry of Khwajah Mir Dard, University of Pennsylvania (October 2007)


Trinity College Faculty Research Grant, 2010
Trinity College Community Learning Initiatives Grant (incorporating community service into teaching), 2009
AAR Fellowship for Summer Seminars in Theologies of Pluralism and Comparative Theology, 2009-2010
Yale University dissertation fellowship for research, 2003-2004
John F. Enders summer fellowship for research, 2003
Yale University tuition fellowship for doctoral work, 1999-2003
Yale University stipend for doctoral work, 1999-2001
Richard J. Franke Fellowship, 1999-2001 – Awarded to ten first-year students in the Humanities for academic merit.
Yale University John Perry Miller Fund for language study, 2000
Yale International Relations Summer Fund for language study, 1999
Yale University tuition fellowship for Masters coursework in International Relations, 1998-2000
Bilkent University (Ankara, Turkey) tuition scholarship for coursework, 1997


Intellectual/cultural trends, institutions and knowledge systems in pre-colonial Muslim India
Theoretical Sufism and the transmission of knowledge in Sufi contexts
Islamic literary, poetic and musical genres, qawwali
Muslim women’s religious production
Islamic community discourses in the United States
Theologies of Pluralism


Organizer, After Fort Hood: Muslims in the Military, Trinity College Spring 2010
Panel discussion with Lt. Col Shareda Hossein, Chaplain Bilal Ansari and Dr. Andrew Walsh; sponsored by the Greenberg Center and the Department of Religion

Organizer, “Journeys with Kabir: An Evening of Film, Poetry and Music”, Trinity College Spring 2009
Film screening of Had-Anhad, discussion with filmmaker Shabnam Virmani; concert with Kabir folksinger Prahlad Singh Tipanya and his musical group.

Organizer, Islamic Calligraphy Workshop, Trinity College Spring 2009/Spring 2010
Lecture and workshop by Sufi calligrapher Aishah Elinor Holland.

Member, Yale University Chaplain Search Committee Spring 2007


Associate, Yale University Chaplain’s Office 2007-2008
Supervisor: Sharon Kugler, Yale University Chaplain

Co-founder, Editor-in-chief, Chowrangi Magazine 2003 – 2006
A print features magazine for the South-Asian-American community, Chowrangi provided a space for new and young creative writers, poets and journalists to find their voice (website: www.chowrangi.org).

Intern, Project Division, United Nations Development Program (Ankara, Turkey) Summer and Fall 1997
Working on micro-financing schemes for disadvantaged urban women in Turkey. Prepared a summary of Turkey’s Poverty Assessment, and assisted with the Gender and Development projects and the UN Newsletter.
Supervisors: Seyhan Aydinligil, Asst. Resident Representative; Jemima Garcias-Godos, Junior Project Officer

Founding member, Features writer, Bryn Mawr College Inside Out Magazine Fall 1996-Spring 1997
The first features magazine at Bryn Mawr College.


Northeast Regional Director, Society for Scriptural Reasoning (SR) Current
Scriptural reasoning is a growing civic practice in which Jews, Christians and Muslims engage with their canonical texts (Tanakh, Bible, Qur’an) and with each other as neighbors and citizens, towards a common civic goal.

Member, Steering Committee, Jewish-Muslim Dialogue, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Current

Leader, SR Workshop, Common Ground: Interfaith Engagement & Environmental Responsibility June 2010
Led an SR session at an ecology and religion workshop organized by Yale chaplain Sharon Kugler, Rabbi Or Rose, and Duke Muslim chaplain Abdullah Antepli.

Leader, SR Workshop, Yale University March 2010

Co-Leader, SR Workshop, National Association of College and University Chaplains, Duke U. February 2010
Led a workshop at the NACUC annual meeting with Dr. Peter Ochs.

Participant, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Retreat, Emerging Jewish and Muslim Leaders Aug 2009

Co-Leader, SR Workshop, Yale Religious Ministry December 2008
Led a workshop at Yale with Dr. Peter Ochs.

Scriptural Reasoning Training – Society for Scriptural Reasoning, Princeton Seminary July 2008
Training in Scriptural Reasoning, with Dr. Peter Ochs, Reverend William Taylor, and Dr. Rumee Ahmed.

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign, Faith Steering Committee Fall 2007
Member of Muslim sub-committee.

Founding member, Yale Islam and Christianity Working Group 2007-2008
Working group to inaugurate an annual Muslim-Evangelical Christian interfaith initiative at Yale.

Member, Yale Religious Ministry 2007-2008


“Reflections on Zulaykha” in AltMuslimah.org

Published in Dawn (Pakistan), Yale Daily News, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Shakti: A South Asian Experience (Yale Literary Magazine), Inside Out (Bryn Mawr Features Magazine).

Photography published in The Magnificent Mughals, ed. Zeenut Ziad. (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2002)


Islam cultural training – Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis, New Haven, CT, August 2009
“Sufism and the inner jihad” – College of William and Mary Islam Awareness Week, April 2009
“Between mystical theology, literature and music: How Khwajah Mir Dard brought three worlds together in 18th century Delhi” – Trinity College, October 2008
Reader of Closing Benediction, Baccalaureate Service – Yale University, May 2008
Discussant/Organizer of 9/11 Reflections Panel and Discussion – Battell Chapel, Yale University, Sep 2007
Rumi readings – Night of Sufi Recitation, Yale University, Dec 2006
Spiritual reading – Interfaith Service, Battell Chapel, Yale University, Dec 2006
Chowrangi Fundraiser for Pakistan/India Earthquake, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York City, Dec 2005
“Chowrangi Magazine” – Pakistan Dinner Club, Washington D.C., Summer 2005
“Women in Islam” – Talk at The Chapin School, New York, NY., March 2002
“Women in Islam” – Talk at Gateway Community College, New Haven, CT., April 2002
Panelist on Faces Of Islam Today: Muslim Identity And Practice In The Wake Of 9/11. Yale Democracy, Security, and Justice Lecture Series, Dec 2001
“Islam” – Talk at Yale Divinity School Interfaith Meeting, Oct 2001.
“The Rise of Islamist Parties in Pakistan” – Talk at the Yale Islam in the Modern Day Colloquium, Spring 2001


Interviewed as a resource on Islam, Boston Globe, March 2006 (“The Clash: Punk meets Islam in a local band that shreds stereotypes”)
Interview re: Chowrangi Magazine, India New England, Nov 2005
Interviewed as a resource on Islam, Jane Magazine, Dec 2004
“Muslims in the U.S. after 9/11 – a positive take” – Interview, Voice of America Urdu Service, Nov 2004
“Teaching Islam in the United States after 9/11” – Interview, BBC Radio Asian Network, Sept 2004
Interview re: Chowrangi Magazine – Awaz TV, Washington, DC., June 2004


Urdu and English (fluent), French (advanced reading, intermediate speaking), Classical and Modern Persian (advanced reading, basic speaking), Classical and Modern Standard Arabic (advanced reading, basic speaking), German (intermediate reading), Modern Turkish (basic reading, basic speaking)


American Academy of Religion
Middle East Studies Association
American Oriental Society
Society for Scriptural Reasoning

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