SherAli has been teaching at F&M since 2012. He received his PhD in Religion/Islamic Studies at Duke University and his BA at Macalester College. His work centers on Muslim intellectual thought in modern South Asia with a focus on intra-Muslim debates and polemics on crucial questions of law, ethics, and theology. His book “Defending Muhammad in Modernity,” is forthcoming in November 2019 in paperback from the University of Notre Dame press. This book presents the most comprehensive and theoretically engaged work to date on what is arguably the most long-running, complex, and contentious dispute in modern Islam: the Barelvī-Deobandī polemic. The Barelvī and Deobandī groups are two normative orientations/reform movements with beginnings in colonial South Asia. Almost two hundred years separate the beginnings of this polemic from the present. Its specter, however, continues to haunt the religious sensibilities of postcolonial South Asian Muslims in profound ways, both in the region and in diaspora communities around the world.
Defending Muḥammad in Modernity challenges the commonplace tendency to view such moments of intra-Muslim contest through the prism of problematic yet powerful liberal secular binaries like legal/mystical, moderate/extremist, and reformist/traditionalist. Tareen argues that the Barelvī-Deobandī polemic was instead animated by what he calls “competing political theologies” that articulated―during a moment in Indian Muslim history marked by the loss and crisis of political sovereignty―contrasting visions of the normative relationship between divine sovereignty, prophetic charisma, and the practice of everyday life. Based on the close reading of previously unexplored print and manuscript sources in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu spanning the late eighteenth and the entirety of the nineteenth century, this book intervenes in and integrates the often-disparate fields of religious studies, Islamic studies, South Asian studies, critical secularism studies, and political theology.
Tareen is currently working on his second monograph "Hindu-Muslim Encounters: Power, Politics, Political Theology." This book, spanning the late 18th to the mid 20th centuries, employs the trope of inter-religious "encounter" to examine varied discursive and political arenas of Hindu-Muslim encounters including Muslim scholarly translations of Hindu thought and practice, inter-religious polemical festivals, intra-Muslim debates on the boundaries of friendship with non-Muslims, intra-Muslim debates on cow sacrifice, and Muslim scholarly contestations on the boundaries of immitating customs and traditions of non-Muslims.
Tareen is also interested in the intersection of secularism and Muslim intellectual thought, Muslim political thought, and Muslim revolutionary politics in the inter-war period. His various articles have appeared in the Journal of Law and Religion, Muslim World, Political Theology, Islamic Studies, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, ReOrient, among many others. His academic publications can be found at: http://fandm.academia.edu/sheralitareen
His teaching menu includes courses such as RST 114 Islam, RST 275 Islam, Tradition, and Modernity, RST 370 Islamic Law and Ethics, RST 371 Sufism, RST 375 Islamic, Law, Gender, and Sexuality, RST 376 Reading Islamic Texts in Arabic, RST 273 Hindus and Muslims, RST 375 Religion and Secularism, and the Connections Courses Muslim America and Islam in North America.
SherAli co-hosts the popular podcast New Books in Islamic Studies that operates online through the New Books Network and features interviews with authors of important new books in the broader field of Islamic Studies. See link below to access this wonderful resource.
Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019).
Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia (with Barton Scott and Brannon Ingram), Routledge, 2016.
Edited Journal Volumes:
“The Deoband Madrasa.” Special Edition Muslim World, Blackwell Publishing, Volume 99, Number 3, (July 2009).
“Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia” (with Barton Scott and Brannon Ingram) South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Taylor and Francis Publications, Volume 38, Number 3, (September 2015).
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:
-“Normativity, Heresy, and the Politics of Authenticity in South Asian Islam.” Muslim World, Blackwell Publishing, Volume 99, Number 3, (July 2009), pp. 521-552. Special Edition on “Deoband Madrasa.” Served as Guest Editor.
-“Competing Political Theologies in Islam: Intra-Muslim Polemics on the Limits of Prophetic Intercession.” Political Theology, Equinox Publishing, Volume 12:3 (June 2011), pp. 418-433.
-“The Polemic of Shahjahanpur: Religion, History, and Miracles.” Islamic Studies Journal, Islamic Research Institute, Volume 51, Number 1, (July 2013), pp. 49-67.
-“The Hermeneutics of Reconciliation: Haji Imdadullah’s Faysala-yi Haft Mas’ala (A Resolution to the Seven Controversies).” Sagar: A South Asia Research Journal, University of Texas at Austin South Asia Institute, Volume 21, (May 2013), pp.1-16.
-“The Perils and Possibilities of Inter-Religious Translation: Mirza Mazhar Jan-i Janan on the Hindus.” Sagar: A South Asia Research Journal, University of Texas at Austin South Asia Institute, Volume 21, (May 2014), pp.43-51.
-“Narratives of Emancipation in Modern Islam: Temporality, Hermeneutics, and Sovereignty.” Islamic Studies Journal, Islamic Research Institute, Volume 52, Number 1, (September 2015), pp.5-28.
- “Contesting Friendship in Colonial Muslim India.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Taylor and Francis, Volume 38, Issue 3, (September 2015), pp. 419-433.
-“Revolutionary Hermeneutics: Translating the Qur’an as a Manifesto for Revolution.” Journal of Religious and Political Practice, Taylor and Francis, Volume 3, Numbers 1-2, (March 2017), 1-24.
-“Translating the ‘Other’: Early Modern Muslim Understandings of Hinduism.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Cambridge University Press, Volume 27, Number 3 (July 2017), pp. 435-460.
Editor Reviewed Journal Articles:
-“Islam, Democracy, and the Limits of Secular Conceptuality.” Journal of Law and Religion, Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, Volume 29, Number 1, (January 2014), pp.1-17.
-“Debating Islam and Secularism in Pakistan.” Journal of Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, Volume 76, Number 2 (May 2017), pp. 457-461.
Editor Reviewed Book Chapters:
-“Revival and Reform in Islam.” Co-authored with Ebrahim Moosa. Islamic Political Thought: An Introduction, Ed. Gerhard Bowering. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015, pp. 202-219.
-“Secularization and South Asian Islam.” Indian Religions, Ed. Arvind Sharma. Springer Press, September 2017.
-“Struggles for Independence: Colonial and Post-Colonial Orders.” Blackwell History of Islamic Civilization, Ed. Armando Salvatore. Blackwell Publishing, 2018.
-“Disrupting Secular Power: Saba Mahmood and the Study of Religion.” Cultural Approaches to Studying Religion: An Introduction to Theories and Methods, Ed. Sarah Bloesch and Meredith Minister. Bloomsbury Press, 2018, pp. 155-174.
Peer-Reviewed Bibliographic Articles:
-“Deoband Madrasa.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islamic Studies. Ed. Tamara Sonn. New York: Oxford University Press, April, 2014.
-“Sayyid Abu’l ‘Ala Mawdudi.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islamic Studies. Ed. Tamara Sonn. New York: Oxford University Press, April, 2014.
Under Review after Submission:
-“Teaching Theory without Theory Talk in an Introductory Islam Course,” under review with Teaching Theology and Religion, Wiley publishing.
“Mahmud Ahmadenijad” Biographical Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East, Ed. Michael Fischbach. Gale Publishing House, Volume 1, pp. 26-30, November 2007.
-“Park 51” Frequencies: A Genealogy of Spirituality. Curated by John Modern and Kathryn Lofton. (New York: SSRC, December 2011).
“Charity,” Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, Princeton University Press, Ed. Gerhard Bowering. December 2012.
“Nadwat al-‘Ulama.” The Encyclopedia on Islam and Law, Ed. Jonathan Brown. Oxford University Press, April 2014.
Review of Nile Green Making Space: Sufis and Settlers in Early Modern India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012) in Journal of Islamic Studies, Cambridge University Press, Volume 25, Number 1, (January 2014), pp. 62-65.
Review of Teena Purohit The Aga Khan Case: Religion and Identity in Colonial India (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012) in Islamic Studies Journal, Islamic Research Institute, Volume 52, Number 1, (August 2015).
Review of John Turner Inquisition in Early Islam: The Competition for Political and Religious Authority in the Abbasid Empire (London: IB Tauris, 2013) in Islamic Studies Journal, Islamic Research Institute, Volume 52, Number 2, (February, 2016).
Review of Adil Khan From Sufism to Ahmadiyya (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014) in Nova Religio, Volume 21, Number 2 (November 2017).
Review of Seema Alavi Muslim Cosmopolitanism in an Age of Empire in International Journal of Asian Studies, Volume 15, Number 1 (January 2018).
Awards and Fellowships
American Institute of Maghrebi Studies, Senior Research Fellowship, 2019.
American Institute of Pakistan Studies Publication Write-Up Grant, 2015.
Luce Visiting Fellowship Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies University of Notre Dame, 2015; funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship: Summer Institute on “American Muslims: History, Culture, and Politics” at George Washington University, 2015.
International Institute of Islamic Thought Residential Fellowship, 2015.
American Institute of Pakistan Studies Long-Term Senior Fellowship, 2015-16.
New School Institute of Critical Social Inquiry Fellowship, seminar on Secularism with Talal Asad, June 2015.
American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant, 2015-16.
American Academy of Religion Collaborative International Research Grant, 2015, awarded annually to five research projects in the study of religion involving international collaboration.
Wabash Center Teaching and Learning Summer Fellowship, 2015; funded by the Lilly Foundation.
American Institute of Pakistan Studies Summer Research Fellowship, 2014.
International Institute of Islamic Thought Research Fellowship, 2014, awarded annually to three scholars of Islamic Studies across the world.
American Academy of Religion Research Award Winner, 2014-15, awarded annually to six scholars of religion across the world.
Wabash Center Teaching and Learning Workshop Fellowship, awarded biannually to fourteen Pre-Tenure Religion Faculty at Colleges and Universities across the country; 2014-15; funded by the Lilly Foundation.
National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship: Summer Seminar on “The Late Ottoman and Russian Empires: Citizenship, Belonging, and Difference” at George Washington University, 2014.
Yale University Annual Modern South Asia Workshop Fellow, 2014.
National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship: Summer Institute on “The Centrality of Translation to the Humanities” at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013.
Franklin and Marshall College Hackman Summer Scholar Award with Kelseyleigh Reber, 2014.
Franklin and Marshall College Committee on Grants Faculty Research Grant, 2012-13 , 2013-14, and 2014-15.
Franklin and Marshall College Office of College Grants Resource Funds Award, 2014 and 2015.
Franklin and Marshall College Summer Seminar Fellowship on the “Status of the Humanities,” 2014.
Woodrow Wilson Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship for Religious Ethics and Values, 2010-11.
Duke University Undergraduate Teaching Award for “Top 5% Teaching Evaluations” in the entire university for the class “Islam in Afghanistan and Central Asia” Spring, 2010.
“Contesting Tradition: Islam and the Politics of Friendship.” Claremont McKenna College Religious Studies Department, Claremont, CA, January 2014.
Response to the Panel “Conjunctive Christianity.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2014.
International Institute of Islamic Thought Herndon VA, "Narratives of Emancipation in Muslim Colonial India." April 2, 2015.
University of Pennsylvania "Problematizing the Law/Sufism Binary in Modern South Asian Islam." April 16, 2015.
University of Notre Dame Islamic Studies Colloquium, “Contesting Friendship in Colonial Muslim India.” September 24, 2015.
University of Notre Dame Department of Theology, “Miracle Wars: Interreligious Polemics in Colonial India.” October 14th, 2015.
Michigan State University Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities, “Contesting Tradition in Modern South Asian Islam.” October 29th, 2015.
University of Notre Dame Kroc Institute for Peace Studies, “Beyond Good Muslim/Bad Muslim: Contesting the Boundaries of Innovation in Islam.” November 3rd, 2015.
University of Notre Dame Islamic Studies Colloquium, “Revolutionary Hermeneutics: Translating the Qur'an as a Manifesto for a Global Revolution.” November 19th, 2015.
American Academy of Religion Rethinking Islamic Studies Annual Workshop, “Teaching Colonialism and Post-colonialism in Islamic Studies.” November 21, 2015.
Islamic Research Institute International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan “Shumal Amrika mein Darasat-i Islami ke Surat-i Hal par aik Tabsara (Reflections on the State of Islamic Studies in North America-talk delivered in Urdu).” December 30, 2015.
Furman Christian College Lahore, Pakistan “Debating the Boundaries of Innovation in Islam: Law, Theology, and Community.” January 6th, 2015.
Invited Talk: “Defending Muhammad in Modernity: Some Perspectives from South Asia.” McGill University Institute of Islamic Studies Annual Graduate Student Conference Keynote Talk, April 2019.
“Imagining the Public in Colonial India: Print, Polemics, and the People.” (with Barton Scott and Brannon Ingram) Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill, May 16-17, 2014.
“Reframing Religious Identity: Hindu-Muslim Encounters in Early Modern North India.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2006.
“Tradition, Reform and Modernity in South Asian Islam: Perspectives on the Deoband Madrasa.” American Academy of Religion, San Diego, CA, November 2007.
“Competing Social Imaginaries in South Asian Islam: Perspectives on 18th and 19th Century Reformist and Revivalist Movements.” American Academy of Religion, Chicago, Ill, November 2008.
“The Politics and Poetics of Islamic Law in Contemporary South Asia.” South Asia Legal Studies Preconference Workshop, Madison WI, October 2012.
“Continuities and Ruptures of Colonial Modernity in South Asian Islam.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2013.
“Ebrahim Moosa’s What is a Madrasa? Book Discussion Roundtable Panel.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2015.
“Venkat Dhulipala’s Creating a New Medina Discussion Roundtable Panel.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2016.
“Saba Mahmood’s Religious Difference in a Secular Age Discussion Roundtable Panel.” American Academy of Religion Conference, San Antonio, TX, November 2016.
“Beyond Reform and Revival: Alternative Archives of South Asian Islam.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2017.
“Islam and the Ethics of Authenticity: Regulating Religious Normativity”. Conference on Secularism and the Regulation of Religion, Columbia University, New York, NY, February 2006.
“The Poetics of Estrangement in Classical Muslim Legal Discourses on Heretical Innovation (Bid‘a)”. Conference on Translating Islam, Duke University, Durham, NC, April 2006.
“Reifying Religion while Lost in Translation.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2006.
“Translating the ‘Other’: Mirza Mazhar Jan-i Janan (d.1781) on the Hindus” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, November 2006.
“Sufism, Reform, and Heterologies: The Case of Deoband.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, November 2006.
“The Rose and the Rock Revisited: An Investigation into the Tensions Between Mystical and Rational Epistemologies in the North Indian Deoband Madrasa.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2007. Panel Organizer.
“Internal Debates on Democracy, Pluralism, and Secularism in the Islamic Tradition: The Case of the Deoband Madrasa in India.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, November 2007. Panel Organizer.
“Between Tradition, Genealogy and Deconstruction: The Challenges of Theorizing Religious Orthodoxy in Islam.”American Oriental Society Conference, Chicago, Ill, March 2008.
“The Reformist War against Mysticism and Popular Religion in South Asian Islam: An Analysis of Discourses on Bid‘a (Heresy) in the Writings of Shah Isma‘il Shahid.”American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Chicago, Ill, November 2008. Panel Organizer.
“Competing Political Theologies: Intra-Muslim Polemics on the Doctrine of Prophetic Intercession (Shafa‘at).” American Oriental Society Conference, Albuquerque, NM March 2009.
“The Boundaries of Tradition and Cosmopolitanism in South Asian Islam: Shah Waliullah (d.1762) and his Interlocutors.” Duke Conference on 18th century South Asian Islam, Durham, NC, September, 2009.
“Competing Imaginaries of the ‘Public’ in ‘Ulama Discourses of Colonial India.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2010.
“Can God Lie? Can He Produce a Million New Muhammads? An Examination of Theological Controversies on the Interplay of Divine and Prophetic Authority in Islam.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 2010.
“Knowing the Unknown: Contesting the Limits of Prophetic Knowledge in Colonial Muslim India.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2011.
“Defending the Self: Translating the Other: Muslim Responses to the Arya Samaj in Colonial India.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2012.
“Competing Rationalities of Law, Tradition, and Reform in Colonial Muslim India: The Barelvi-Deobandi Polemic.” South Asia Legal Studies Preconference Workshop, Madison WI, October 2012. Panel Organizer.
“Early Modern Muslim Translations of Hinduism.” National Endowment for Humanities Summer Institute Conference on “The Centrality of Translation to the Humanities”, Urbana-Champaign Ill, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“The Prophet Muhammad Contested: Competing Imaginaries of Normativity in Modern South Asia.” Annual Middle East Studies Conference, New Orleans LA, October 2013.
“Longing for Revolution: Muslim Political Theologies in Colonial India.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2013. Panel Organizer.
“Contesting Pluralism through the Qur’an.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD, November 2013.
“Contesting Knowledge and Sovereignty in Colonial Muslim India.” Association of Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, March 2014.
“The Politics of Friendship in Colonial Muslim India.” Yale University Annual Modern South Asia Workshop, New Haven, CT, April 2014.
“Imagining a Moral Public: Tradition, Reform, and Innovation.” Northwestern University Imagining the Public in Colonial India Conference, Evanston, ILL, May 2014.
"Translating the Qur'an as a Manifesto for Revolution." University of Freiburg Muslim Translations of the Qur'an in the Modern Nation State Conference, Freiburg, Germany, July 17-20, 2014.
“Muslim Reform Movements in South Asia.” South Asian Muslim Studies Association Preconference, Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2014.
“Narratives of Emancipation in Muslim Colonial India.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2014.
“Revolutionary Hermeneutics: Reimagining the Political in Colonial Time.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, November 2014.
“Reforming the Public: Shah Muhammad Isma‘il’s (d.1831) Sermons in 19th century Delhi.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2015.
“Qur’an Translations and Commentaries in South Asia.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, November 2015.
“Secularism and South Asian Islam.” American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 2016.
“South Asian Minorities and the Global Discourse of Religious Moderation.” Fifth Annual Sikh Studies Conference, University of California-Riverside, Riverside, CA, May 2017.
“What if God could Lie? Contesting Sovereignty in Early Colonial India.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2017.
“Cow Sacrifice as a Symbol of Muslim Distinction.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2017.
“Contesting Muhammad in Modernity: Power, Politics, Political Theology.” Center for Culture and Literature, Conference on Prophetic Politics as Alternative Political Theology, Berlin, Germany, June, 2018.
“South Asian Qur’an Commentaries and Translations.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2018.
“Debating the Cow in Colonial India.” South Asia Muslim Studies Association, Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2018.
Arabic (Modern Standard): Speaking, Reading, and Writing (Near-Native Fluency)
Persian/Dari: Speaking, Reading and Writing (Near Native Fluency)
Urdu: Speaking, Reading and Writing (Advanced Native Fluency)
Pashto: Speaking Only (Intermediate High, Heritage Speaker)
Punjabi: Speaking Only (Intermediate, Currently Learning).