Ali S. Asani

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Ali Sultaan Asani (Sindhi: علي سلطان آساڻي‎; born 1954 in Nairobi, Kenya) is Professor of Indo-Muslim Religion and Cultures and the Director of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University.


Asani was born in Kenya and was brought up there. He is of Sindhi heritage.[1]

Academic career[edit]

After completing his high-school education in Kenya, he attended Harvard College, with a concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion, graduating summa cum laude in 1977. He continued his graduate work at Harvard in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC), receiving his Ph.D. in 1984. Asani also serves on the faculty of the Departments of Sanskrit and Indian Studies and African and African-American Studies. He has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of languages such as Hindustani, Sindhi, Gujarati, Kachchi and Swahili as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition. He currently directs NELC's doctoral program in Indo-Muslim Culture.

A scholar of Islam in South Asia, Prof Asani's research focuses on Shii and Sufi devotional traditions in the region. In addition, he is interested in popular or folk forms of Muslim devotional life, and Muslim communities in the West.

Asani has been particularly active post-September 11, 2001 in improving the understanding of Islam and its role in Muslim societies by conducting workshops for high school and college educators as well as making presentations at various public forums. More recently, he has been involved in the Islamic Cultural Studies Initiative, an international professional development program for high school teachers in Kenya, Pakistan and Texas intended to promote a culturally and historically based approach to the study of Islam and Muslim societies. He has also served on the American Academy of Religion's Task Force on the teaching of religion in schools. In 2002, he was awarded the Harvard Foundation medal for his outstanding contributions to improving intercultural and race relations at Harvard and in the nation.


His books include The Bujh Niranjan: An Ismaili Mystical Poem; The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in Indic Literatures: A Descriptive Catalog and Finding Aid; Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Muslim Devotional Poetry (co-author); Al-Ummah: A Handbook for an Identity Development Program for North American Muslim Youth; Ecstasy and Enlightenment: The Ismaili Devotional Literatures of South Asia, and Let's Study Urdu: An Introduction to the Urdu Script and Let's Study Urdu: An Introductory Course.

In addition, he has published numerous articles in journals and encyclopedias including The Encyclopedia of Religion, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, Encyclopedia of South Asian Folklore, and the Muslim Almanac. He also serves on the editorial advisory board of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World and the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States. He is a member of the board of directors of the American Islamic Congress as well as the Academic Council of Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University


  1. ^ "Interview with Ali S. Asani, 2011". Sindhi Studies Group. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2014.

External links[edit]