Mairaj U. Syed is an Associate Professor in the department of religious studies at the University of California, Davis. His current research explores two areas of Islamic studies: the history of Islamic moral thought and the development of hadith literature in the first 250 years of Islamic history. In 2016, he published a book length study of Islamic thought with Oxford University Press entitled Coercion and Responsibility in Islam: a Study in Ethics and Law. It is an analysis of the structure of reasoning in theological, ethical and legal debates in classical Islamic thought on the impact of coercion on responsibility. It also compares classical Muslim discourses on coercion with the debates among modern Anglo-American philosophers and judges and suggests that despite ostensible differences, the two share a substantial amount of conceptual similarity. Syed's most recent publication (co-authored with Danny Halawi, Behnam Sadeghi, and Nazmus Saquib), "Verifying Source Citations in Hadith Literature", is a contribution to the field of early Islam and hadith studies. It uses statistical and computational methods to detect and automatically correct mistakes in the citations of sources found in hadith literature. This is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Medieval Worlds, 1:3 (2019). At the University of California, Davis, he teaches a wide variety of classes in Islamic Studies, Comparative Religion, Ethics, Digital Humanities and Social Theory. In 2014, he was a Fulbright scholar in Istanbul, Turkey. He is the recipient of a number of grants, including one from the University of California, Davis Academic Senate Large Grant and the Middle Ages in the Wider World Summer research grant. These grants fund an on-going research project that applies computational and statistical methods of analysis to hadith literature. In addition to his research and teaching, he is active in various American Muslim civil society organizations and has been retained as an expert witness in legal cases involving Islamic law and Muslims in the United States. Syed holds Ph.D. in religion from Princeton University, and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Texas, Austin.
Associate Professor, University of California