Mona Hassan
  • Mona Hassan

  • Assistant Professor
  • Religious Studies
  • 118 Gray Building, Durham, NC 27708
  • Campus Box 90964
  • Fax: (919) 660-3530
  • Specialties

    • Islam
    • Religion
    • Culture
  • Research Description

    Mona Hassan is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and History, and her research explores the intersections of religion, culture, politics, and gender. She investigates the shifting socio-political and cultural contexts in which Muslim female scholarship has been formed and articulated. Some of her recent articles in this vein reinterpret how the history of Turkish secularism continues to affect the spatial mapping and contestation of gendered religious domains in the modern Republic of Turkey. Her first book, Longing for the Lost Caliphate: Religious Imaginaries of State and Community among Premodern and Modern Muslims, examines Muslim engagement and entanglement with the notion of an Islamic caliphate following two poignant moments of symbolic loss, the Mongol destruction of the Abbasid caliphate in 1258 and the Turkish nationalist abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. It examines what Muslims across Afro-Eurasia imagined to be lost with the disappearance of the Abbasid and Ottoman caliphates and how they attempted to recapture that perceived loss, and in doing so redefined the caliphate for their times, under shifting circumstances. Vivid collective memories of the caliphate created a shared sense of community among disparate peoples at the same time as they gave rise to differing and competing visions of the community’s past, present, and future.
  • Education

      • Ph.D.,
      • Princeton University,
      • 2009
      • M.A.,
      • Princeton University,
      • 2000
      • B.A.,
      • Rutgers University,
      • 1997
  • Awards, Honors and Distinctions

      • Faculty Book Manuscript Workshop,
      • Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University,
      • January 2014
      • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship,
      • American Council of Learned Societies,
      • 2013
      • Social Science Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship for Transregional Research,
      • Social Science Research Council,
      • January 2013
      • Visiting Fellow, “Gender, Religion, and Law in Muslim Societies”,
      • Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University,
      • January 2013
      • ACLS Fellows (ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowships and ACLS/New York Public Library Fellowships),
      • American Council of Learned Societies,
      • January 2012
      • Social Science Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship for Transregional Research,
      • 2012-13
  • Recent Publications

      • M Hassan.
      • "Relations, Narrations, and Judgments: The Scholarly Networks and Contributions of an Early Female Muslim Jurist."
      • Islamic Law and Society
      • 22
      • .4
      • (2015)
      • :
      • 1-29.
      Publication Description

      Through an extensive analysis of early biographical dictionaries and histories, ḥadīth collections and commentaries, as well as legal texts, I reconstruct the life of a female jurist from the third generation of Muslims. It was through informal networks of kin- ship and scholarship that ʿAmrah bint ʿAbd al-Raḥmān (d. 106/724) contributed to the core of Islamic knowledge in ways similar to her male contemporaries, while she also served as a resource within the community for the gender-specific concerns of women. The depth of her knowledge established ʿAmrah’s narrations as reliable evidence of the Prophet Muḥammad’s conduct and endowed her own opinions and deeds with an authoritative weight respected by contemporaries and subsequent generations of Muslim scholars.

      • Mona Hassan.
      • "Reshaping Religious Authority in Contemporary Turkey: State-Sponsored Female Preacher."
      • Women, Leadership and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority.
      • Ed. Masooda Bano and Hilary Kalmbach.
      • Brill,
      • 2012.
      • 85-103.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      With the active support and intervention of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, state-sponsored female preachers are establishing a new model of female religious authority in Turkish society based upon the elevation of well-trained and certified women to official positions of religious influence, whereby they are energetically engaged in (re)shaping the populace’s understanding and interpretations of Islam.

      • Mona Hassan.
      • "Women at the Intersection of Turkish Politics, Religion, and Education: The Unexpected Path to Becoming a State-Sponsored Female Preacher."
      • Comparative Islamic Studies
      • 5
      • .1
      • (August 2011)
      • :
      • 111-130.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      This article elucidates how increased religious educational opportunities for girls over the past few decades, sparked by Turkey’s transition from single-party rule to a multi-party political system, has fostered the development of state-sponsored female preachers (who are entrusted with giving mosque sermons and legal responsa) at the same time that contemporary Turkish politics and the vig- orously contested place of Islam, Islamic education, and practicing Muslims in an assertively secular system has impinged upon and redirected their lives in surprising ways. Analyzed through the comparative lens of successive generations of female students, the continuous contestation over the appropriate place of religion — and particularly its instruction and social visibility—amid secular state apparatuses has both opened and contracted professional opportunities for Turkey’s state-sponsored female preachers.

      • Mona Hassan.
      • "Women Preaching for the Secular State: Official Female Preachers (Bayan Vaizler) in Contemporary Turkey."
      • International Journal of Middle East Studies
      • 43
      • .3
      • (August 2011)
      • :
      • 451-473.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      Nearly one-third of Turkey’s official preaching workforce are women. Their numbers have risen considerably over the past two decades, fueled by an unforeseen feminization of higher religious education as well as the Directorate of Religious Affairs’ attempts to redress its historical gender imbalances. Created in the early Turkish Republic, the Directorate is also historically embedded in (re)defining the appropriate domains and formations of religion, and the female preachers it now employs navigate people’s potent fears rooted in memories of this fraught past. In the various neighborhoods of Istanbul, these preachers attempt to overcome conservative Muslims’ cautious ambivalence toward the interpretative and disciplinary powers of a secular state as well as assertive secularists’ discomfort and suspicion over increasingly visible manifestations of religiosity. Thus, the activities of state-sponsored female preachers are inescapably intertwined with the contestation of religious domains and authority in the secular Republic of Turkey and demonstrate an intricate interplay between the politics of religion, gender, and secularism in contemporary Turkish society.

      • Mona Hassan.
      • "Modern Interpretations and Misinterpretations of a Medieval Scholar: Apprehending the Political Thought of Ibn Taymiyyah."
      • Ibn Taymiyyah and His Times.
      • Ed. Shahab Ahmed and Yossef Rapoport.
      • Oxford University Press,
      • 2010.
      • 338-66.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      This article overturns widely held perceptions of Ibn Taymiyya’s views on the caliphate in contemporary scholarship through a close examination of his Fatawa, Minhaj al-Sunna, and al-Siyasa al-Shar‘iyya and reveals Ibn Taymiyya’s juristic attachment and engagement with the concept of the caliphate as a moral and legal necessity for the welfare of the Muslim community in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The article also reflects on how modern accommodationist and confrontationist Islamist groups have marshalled Ibn Taymiyya’s work in support of their widely divergent positions, sometimes well beyond the letter and spirit of his original contributions.

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