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I am a doctoral candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. In 2017, and with the generous support of the Fullbright Scholarship, I received my MA in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia with a concentration in Theology, Culture, and Ethics. 

My research aims to probe the intersection of religion and literature through the prism of Sufi literature. I am especially interested in how medieval and early modern Sufi poetry weds literary form with metaphysics and philosophy. Drawing on interdisciplinary methodological and theoretical resources, I seek to understand how literary forms, aesthetics, ethics, and philosophical thought intersect and inform one another. 


I work primarily with Persian, Arabic, Urdu, and English. I am especially interested in projects that cross disciplinary 'boundaries' and ones that position 'premodern' philosophical, literary, and religious traditions – not merely as objects of study – but as sources of possible knowledge, theory, and method. 

Research Interests: South Asian Religions, Sufism, Persian Literature, Comparative Literature, Literary Theory, Aesthetics. 





My dissertation, “The texture, poetics, and the taste of Love and Knowledge in Amīr Khusraw and Fakhr al-Dīn ‘Irāqī’s works,” examines the writings of two seminal Persian poets, Fakhr al-Dīn ‘Irāqī (d. 1289) and Amīr Khusraw (d. 1325). Both of these figures played an influential role in shaping the literary and intellectual culture of the thirteenth-century Indian Subcontinent and the Islamicate tradition. In my dissertation, I explore how both of these thinkers, in their own distinct ways, centered poetry as a way of knowing. By including cosmology, metaphysics, the relationship between the human and the Divine, and experiential dimensions such as love (‘ishq), ambiguity (īhām), and tasting (ẕawq) as ways of knowing, they inadvertently expanded the conventional scope and sources of knowledge.


While Khusraw penned a theoretical treatise, Preface to the Full Moon of Perfection (Dibāchāh-i dīvān-i Ghurrat al-Kamāl), that outlines the role between poetry and knowledge (ḥikmah), ‘Irāqī ostensibly performed poetry in his treatise Divine Flashes (Lama’āt) through his ingenious and careful use of poetic devices such as metaphor (istiāra), allusion (kināyā), and metonymy (majāz mursal). Through this method, ‘Irāqī not only synthesizes Akbarian metaphysics with the Persian literary school of love, but he also demonstrates how Akbarian metaphysics, in one manner, hinges upon this direct, immediate, embodied ‘affect’ cultivated through poetry.


This dissertation ultimately moves towards inquiring as to whether the form and the hermeneutical role of the reader/listener lends to a distinct mode of knowing. The questions at play are as follows: If there is a distinct mode of knowing that emerges from the creative interplay of both form and the hermeneutical act of reader/listener, what is it? What epistemic implications does this way of knowing a ‘thing’ entail? Does the form—its lyrical meter, aesthetic, and use of literary devices such as imagery, metaphor, and personification (among others)—assert a power over the reader that departs from other ways of knowing?


I seek to answer this by turning the scholarly lens towards the relation between form and meaning and centering the listener/reader within this symbiotic interplay. Thus, rather than treating the ideas as static, I seek to foreground the listener/reader, and their role in making sense of – and being moved by – poetry. 





My next research project explores the lived tradition of Qawwālī in postcolonial Pakistan. Qawwālī is a ritual-based tradition that encompasses lyrical poetry (ghazal) as song, music, dance, and finds intellectual grounding in Sufi metaphysics and practice. Qawwālī is a source of ongoing controversy in the socio-religious landscape of Pakistan. While Qawwālī has been ‘claimed’ by diverse cross-sections of contemporary South Asia, often at odds with one another, I am especially interested in the question of how and why this has been the case with this particular medium.


Looking beyond the socio-political dimension, I am currently exploring how members of the clerical class, Sufī orders, and legal jurists have understood Qawwālī in both past and present as an ethico-religious devotional act, capable of bringing about the almost immediate transformation of the human subject and one that engenders the possibility of a ‘direct’ encounter and return to God. I am especially interested in studying what ‘affect’ the received form of Qawwālī– lyrical verse and music–has on the self. What ethical implications are latent in the lyrical, hermeneutic, and philosophical dimension of Qawwālī? To what extent do these implications help us complicate a perceived divorce between ‘ritual,’ ‘literature,’ and ‘philosophy’?






Both my current project on the form and the hermeneutical role of the reader/listener and its implication(s) on ways of knowing and my future project on the performance of Qawwālī arise out of my interest in how Muslim scholars, authors, and saints make sense of and enact philosophical, theological, and ethical teachings and principles. To this end, both projects unveil ‘moments’ in the discursive tradition of Islam in which Muslims have sought to ‘give life’ to abstract and systematic expositions, whether it be through poetry and the poetic form (as is evinced in the first project) or through the lived traditions of sung poetry that are inevitably comprised of philosophy, literature, and theological discourses but distilled in ways that ‘speak’ to all who partake, albeit in varied and multiform ways. Taken together, both projects synthesize current trends in the academic study of Islam, emphasizing not only the importance of the vernacular, but also how the involvement of the ‘full’ self in ritual performance – the mind and the body – complicates and even expands what we consider to be the sources and telos of knowledge. Both projects also lie at the crossroads of yet another dimension: these projects, when taken together, articulate an internal diversity to the Islamicate tradition that speak to how Muslims have interpreted, shaped, and performed their tradition, with particular focus on drawing out the latent possibilities of the human-self, across temporal and cultural milieus.

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PhD, Religious Studies                                                                      University of Virginia, 2024 (Expected) 

MA, Religious Studies (Theology, Culture, & Ethics)                                      University of Virginia, 2017


BS, Economics & Political Science                                          Lahore University of Management Sciences                                     


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