Learn More About the Members of Our Academic Organization

Board of Directors

NAAIMS is a 501 (c) (3) Tax-Exempt Organization

Run by a Board of Directors Elected Every Two Years
(Term from 2019 - 2021)

Dr. Frederick S. Colby


Dr. Frederick S. Colby
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Frederick (Rick) S. Colby is an associate professor of religious studies and director of the Middle East and North Africa Studies program at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR. Aside from his monograph Narrating Muhammad's Night Journey (SUNY Press, 2008), Colby's book-length publications include an edition and translation of an Arabic treatise by the early Sufi Abu ʿAbd al-Rahman al-Sulamī entitled The Subtleties of the Ascension (Fons Vitae, 2006), as well as a volume of essays co-edited with art historian Christiane Gruber, entitled The Prophet's Ascension: Cross-Cultural Encounters with the Islamic miʿrāj Tales (Indiana U Press, 2010).

From 2011-2017, Colby served two terms as co-chair of the Study of Islam section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), first with co-chair Dr. Kecia Ali (2011-12), and then with co-chair Dr. Juliane Hammer (2012-17).

Before his graduate studies, Colby spent a year as a Thomas J. Watson fellow living in Egypt and making short trips to neighboring countries while researching coffeehouse culture. Subsequently, he earned an M.A. in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from the University of Chicago (1995), and a Ph.D. in religion (specialization in Islamic studies) from Duke University (2002). While engaged in dissertation research analyzing historic Arabic manuscripts preserving premodern discourses about the Prophet Muhammad's famous Night Journey and Ascension that later formed the basis of his first monograph, Colby received a Fulbright fellowship for research in Syria (1999-2000), and two four-month fellowships (2000) from American Research Institute for research in Turkey, and Egypt.

Dr. Sarra Tlili

Vice President

Dr. Sarra Tlili
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Sarra Tlili is an associate professor of Arabic literature and language at the University of Florida. She obtained her Masters's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department. Before joining the University of Florida, she taught at the American Department of State's Foreign Service Institute in Tunis, the Middlebury Arabic Language Summer Program, and the NELC Department at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her main research areas are animal and environmental ethics in Islam and Quranic stylistics. Tlili serves on the editorial board of NAAIMS bi-annual double-blind peer-reviewed publication, the Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies (JIMS).

Her recent publications include "The Canine Companion of the Cave: The Place of the Dog in Qur'anic Taxonomy" (Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, 2018, 3.2), "Animal Ethics in Islam: A Review Article" (Religions 2018, 9, 269, https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090269), "From Breath to Soul: The Qur'anic Word Rūḥ and its (Mis)interpretations," (in Joseph Lowry, Shawkat Toorawa, eds. Arabic Humanities, Islamic 

Thought: Essays in Honor of Everett K. Rowson. Leiden: Brill, 2017. 1-21), and "I Invoke God Therefore I am: Creation's Spirituality and its Ecologic Impact in Islamic Texts," (in John Parham and Louise Westling, eds. A Global History of Literature and the Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 107-122). She is also the author of Animals in the Qur'an (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Dr. Aisha Y. Musa


Dr. Aisha Y. Musa
Independent Scholar - Islamic and Qur'anic Studies, Tigard, OR

Aisha Y. Musa obtained her Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic studies from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Her research and teaching interests include Hadith and Sunna, translation of classical Arabic texts, Qur'anic interpretation, women's issues, Islamic Law, and modern-day reformist and neo-traditionalist movements.

Musa's publications include Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam (Palgrave, 2008), "Hadith Studies" in The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies (Continuum, 2013), "The Relationship of al-ma'qùl and al-manqùl in Mullā Khusraw's Conceptualization of Sunna" in the Proceedings of International Symposium on Mullā Khusraw (Bursa, Turkey, 2013), "Jizya: Toward a more Qur'anically based Understanding of a Historically Problematic Term," in Transcendent Thought (November 2011), Al-Mostafa Center for Islamic Research, Manila, Philippines, and "The Qur'anists," Religion Compass 4/1 (2010).

Forthcoming in 2016, Securing Knowledge: A translation and analysis of al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī's Taqyīd al-ʿIlm (Leiden: Brill). She has made presentations at conferences nationally and globally and has served both as a panelist and a chair at past NAAIMS conferences. Her presentation at NAAIMS 42nd Annual Conference in 2013, co-sponsored by Princeton University, highlighted "Jizya: An Example of Continual Reinterpretation and Reform with a Contemporary Qur’ānic Reinterpretation," and in her 2008 presentation at NAAIMS (Formerly AMSS) 37th Annual Conference, co-sponsored by Harvard Divinity School focused on " 'We Have Made you Peoples and Tribes'... A Qur'anically-Based Vision of Multi-Culturalism.

Waleed A. El-Ansary


Waleed A. El-Ansary
Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH

Waleed El-Ansary is the Helal, Hisham, and Laila Edris El-Swedey University Chair in Islamic Studies at Xavier University. He teaches courses on comparative religion, Islamic studies, and religion and science. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic and religious studies from George Washington University, Washington, DC, and an M.A. in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, science, and economics.

He has authored numerous publications, including "Islamic Environmental Economics and the Three Dimensions of Islam" in his co-edited volume Muslim and Christian Understanding: Theory and Application of a Common Word. Other recently published articles include his "Can Our Science and Economics Honor Nature?" in the inaugural issue of Renovatio, "Hindu and Islamic Economics: On the Need for a New Economic Paradigm" in a special issue of The Muslim World devoted to Hindu-Muslim relations, and "The Need for a New Economic Paradigm: Seyyed Hossein Nasr on Islamic Economics" in Voices of Three Generations: Essays in Honor of Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

His most recent book with Alexis Blum, Grand Rabbi Emeritus of Neuilly, and Bishop Claude Dagens, Bishop of Angouleme, is Knowing the Religion of the Other, which was arranged through the UNESCO-based Aladdin project to help train young rabbis, priests/preachers, and imams (as well as any other interested parties) about the Abrahamic traditions for greater mutual understanding and peace.

The French edition has been published, the English edition is forthcoming shortly, Hebrew and Arabic translations are underway, and the Vatican is translating the book into Italian. His forthcoming works include "Economic Justice in the Qur'an" in The Routledge Companion to the Qur'an and "An Islamic Theology of Work and Vocational Occupation: Implications for Islamic Economic Theory and Practice," Human Flourishing, Virtue, and Markets.

Ms. Aila A. Ghori

Assistant Treasurer

Ms. Aila A. Ghori

Aila A. Ghori received her Bachelor of Science degree in Decision and Information Sciences and Accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, in 1999. She also has training in Network Security Administration, SQL Server, the security of the OS/390, the programming languages Pascal and Visual Basic, and the operating systems: Unix, Win95, 98, NT, and 2000.

Aila is also active with the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), a professional organization for IT Audit professionals that serves as an education foundation to expand the knowledge and value of the IT governance and control field.

Aila has been involved with a financial services firm assisting with various audit and accounting functions. Before the financial work, she was a member of Marriott International's Audit team, where she was primarily responsible for conducting internal computer and application controls reviews, as well as identifying risk management issues within the firm. Aila also has consulted with a large accounting firm where she created databases, conducted data analysis, and wrote and conducted test plans for various financial systems. Aila is married with two children and is settled in Virginia. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her kids, reading, and cooking. Aila speaks fluent English, Urdu, and Hindi.

Dr. Mohammad Hassan Khalil

Member at Large

Dr. Mohammad Hassan Khalil
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Mohammad Hassan Khalil is an associate professor of religious studies, an adjunct professor of law, and director of the Muslim Studies Program at Michigan State University. Before returning to his hometown of East Lansing, Michigan, he was an assistant professor of religion and visiting professor of law at the University of Illinois.

He specializes in Islamic thought and is author of Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question (Oxford University Press, 2012) and Jihad, Radicalism, and the New Atheism (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2017); and editor of Between Heaven and Hell: Islam, Salvation, and the Fate of Others (Oxford University Press, 2013). He has presented papers at various national and international conferences and has published peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on various topics, from early Islamic historiography to bioethics.

He serves on multiple editorial boards and the board of directors of the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics. In 2015 he received the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.

Dr. Kenneth Garden

Member at Large

Dr. Kenneth Garden
Tufts University, Medford, MA

Kenneth Garden received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During a junior year abroad in Bonn, West Germany in 1988-89, he became interested in the contemporary Middle East and began studying Arabic when back in Wisconsin. His interest shifted from the contemporary period to the middle ages.

He completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 2005, and today is an associate professor in the Department of Religion at Tufts University, Medford, MA. His book, The First Islamic Reviver, is on Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, his Revival of the Religious Sciences, and the role this book and its agenda played in his life, thought, and writings.

Most of his publications have been about al-Ghazālī and the reception of his writings in the Islamic West. He is currently working on shorter contemporary projects on German Muslim public intellectuals and atheists who were formerly Muslims. He has spent over three years living in Egypt and Morocco and four years in Germany, Czechia, and Sweden.

Dr. Zahra Ayubi

Member at Large

Dr. Zahra Ayubi
Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Zahra Ayubi is an assistant professor of Islamic studies in the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. She specializes in women and gender in premodern and modern Islamic ethics and has published on gendered concepts of ethics, justice, and religious authority, and on Muslim feminist-thought and American Muslim women's experiences. Her first book, Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society (Columbia University Press, 2019), rethinks the tradition of Islamic philosophical ethics from a feminist critical perspective. She interrogates how medieval Islamic ethicists conceive of the ethical human being as an elite male within a hierarchical cosmology built on excluding women and non-elites.

She calls for a philosophical turn in the study of gender in Islam based on resources for gender equality that are unlocked by feminist engagement with the Islamic ethical tradition. Her next book project, Deciding for Women: Gender and Authority in Islamic Biomedical Ethics, is being supported by a three-year grant from the Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholars Program.

The project is a textual and ethnographic study of gender and gendered experiences in Muslim biomedical ethics. In addition to a focus on practical ethics, in this project, Ayubi examines how Islamic biomedical thought and praxis demonstrate Muslim ontological, metaphysical, and existential conceptions of women. She completed her doctoral work at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, and her undergraduate studies at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.