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Sara Omar, BA, 2003

Field of Study: BA in AAPTIS and History

Year of Graduation: 2003

Since my BA in AAPTIS and History, I received a Masters of Theological Studies and a Masters in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. I subsequently spent an academic year on a Fulbright Fellowship in Damascus, Syria conducting field work and research on female religious authority. I recently received my PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. I currently hold a joint appointment in Arab World Studies and in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at American University. My research interests include Islamic intellectual history, Islamic Law, textual hermeneutics, gender and sexuality, religious authority, and violence.

I have been fortunate and extremely privileged in the education that I have received. Attending the University of Michigan, where I fell in love with the study of Arabic and Islamic Studies, has shaped my career as well as my life. The faculty of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan are some of the best in the world. Not only did they spark my interest in this field, but they invested time in nurturing my intellectual and emotional well-being. Many of the faculty of NES have shaped my research interests and teaching. Professor Kathryn Babayan instilled in me a love for teaching and for exploring the study of women, gender and sexuality. Her willingness to patiently and respectfully listen and engage all students’ perspectives continues to serve as my model in the classroom. Her class on Women, Gender and Islam completely transformed my outlook and has left a mark on me until today. Professor Michael Bonner inspired me to pursue Islam in its pre-modern context and to further explore the historical complexities of early Arabia. I can still recall the enthusiasm with which he taught our Islamic history course, where he forewarned that “the Mongols are coming!” Professor Sherman Jackson introduced me to the nuances of Islamic law and exposed me to the modern crisis of authority in the Muslim community. His mastery of classical Arabic sources inspired me to continue uncovering the wealth of texts and manuscripts that have yet to be studied. The education I received at the University of Michigan was foundational and I am eternally indebted to the faculty of NES for having shaped my research and career.