Rushain Abbasi is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He received his PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at Harvard University in 2021, where his dissertation was awarded the prestigious Alwaleed Bin Talal Prize for Best Dissertation in Islamic Studies. He formerly served as an Associate Research Scholar at the Abdullah S. Kamel Center for Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School.
In general, Professor Abbasi’s scholarly work seeks to bring the premodern Islamic intellectual and cultural heritage to bear on contemporary debates in religious studies and social theory. His articles have been published in the Journal of Islamic Studies and Studia Islamica. He is also a contributing member to the Balzan Seminar based in Princeton University: a five-year research project dedicated to analyzing the nuances of premodern Islamic statehood.
Professor Abbasi’s forthcoming book (set to be published with Princeton University Press in 2023) is a sweeping intellectual history, which traces the development of the idea of the secular in the premodern Islamic world. His study is aimed at undermining the current academic orthodoxy which maintains that the distinction between the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular is a modern European invention and thus wholly at odds with an Islamic worldview. More constructively, however, the book illustrates how premodern Muslim thinkers engaged in sophisticated and complex secularizing strategies as a way of resolving a variety of pressing questions pertaining to theology, politics, law, and epistemology. In essence, the project is one which attempts to intervene in contemporary debates surrounding the relationship between Islam and modernity, but through a historically grounded investigation of a single concept (or rather, dialectic) in premodern Islamic thought.