Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Jamal J. Elias

Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities

Professor of Religious Studies and South Asia Studies


B.A., Stanford University (1983)
M.A., University of Pennsylvania (1985)
M.A., Yale University (1987)
Ph.D., Yale University (1991)


Jamal J. Elias teaches courses on Islamic thought, culture and history, with a focus on Sufism, Islamic and modernity, as well as visual and material culture in the Middle East and South Asia. A recipient of many grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Social Science Research Council (among others), he has lectured and published broadly on history, religion, literature and material and visual culture in the medieval and modern Islamic world. His two most recent books are On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford 2011) and Aisha's Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge, MA, 2012).

Research Interests


  • Islamic mystical thought and metaphysics
  • Religion and Material Culture
  • Popular Culture in South Asia and Turkey
  • Sufi literature
  • Qur'anic Studies

Selected Publications


[image of book]
[image of book]
[image of book]
[image of book]

Courses Taught


  • Islam and Modernity
  • Sufism
  • Qur'anic Studies
  • Religion and Visual Culture
  • Islamic Metaphysics
  • History of Islamic Civilization
  • Islamic Ethics

CV (url)