Indiana University Bloomington
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Welcome to the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC). The department was founded half a century ago, making it one of the oldest such departments in the nation. Its founding father was Professor Wadie Elias Jwaideh, a native of Iraq and an expert on the modern history of the Kurds who joined the faculty of IU in 1960. He served as chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures with exemplary dedication for over two decades, building a department with strengths in Arabic language and linguistics, Hebrew and Jewish studies, and Middle Eastern and Islamic history, culture, and religions. We are thus justifiably proud of belonging to one of the oldest and most venerable departments of its kind in the nation.

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Professor Stephen Katz, Departmental Chair


NELC Professor Asma Afsaruddin: Here & Now and Newsweek!

On Here & Now, a radio show dedicated to breaking world news, Professor Asma Afsaruddin discusses the history of Islam and ISIS as a political movement alongside Jonathan Brown, director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

Professor Afsaruddin also recently wrote an article published in Newsweek addressesing modernity, religion, and their interwoven relationship. Read her article here.

NELC Ph.D. Student Yasser Sultan Wins College Travel Award!

Sultan will be presenting his paper entitled "What If She Were the Exegete? A Feminist Critique of the Classical Tafsirs on the Issue of Interfaith Marriage" at the MESA Annual Meeting in Denver, CO this year.

Says Sultan about this paper, "Writing this paper was prompted by a question that was directed to me by a NELC graduate student, who wanted to know whether Muslim women are allowed to marry non-Muslim men. The mainstream view on this issue is that this kind of marriage is not permitted. In my paper, I question the claim that the Quran prohibits the marriage between Muslim women and men from the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). I argue that the assumed prohibition is a result of patriarchal readings of the Qur'an by male Muslim exegetes. I also suggest that perpetuation of these unequal rulings between men and women comes from the works of exegesis and jurisprudence, and not from the Qur'an itself."

Says he about his research interests, "I focus mainly on the issues of divorce in Hanafii fiqh. I approach these issues from a faith-based perspective. Therefore, I am interested not only in analyzing how Islamic jurisprudence and law interacted, but I also propose certain reforms based on my analysis of how the legal rulings were deduced and also on the ramifications of their application on the people, especially women. Overall, my research could be placed under the general umbrella of reforming Muslim thought." Yasser Sultan first came to Indiana University as a Fulbright scholar in 2012. He received his B.A. in Islamic Studies from the prestigious al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. He also holds an M.A. from IU NELC. Congratulations, Yasser!

NELC Ph.D. Student Seyed Asghari wins NELC Travel Award and Graduate Professional Student Government Travel Award!

Asghari's research interests focus on Islamic studies with specific attention to Islamic intellectual tradition and Shi'a mystical theology. He will be traveling to the Islam and Contemporary Challenges Conference in Tehran, Iran, later this year. He will discuss the ways in which Sadra, a Muslim philosopher of 16th century Iran, interprets scripture and tradition to reconcile revelation and intellect.

Mr. Asghari says about his research, "I would like to assess the methodology of Muslim intellectuals when they dealt with revelation and produced a huge heritage of philosophy and Sufism which is in contrast with some of the contemporary extremist movements especially in Middle eastern societies and their disasters effects both for Muslims and non-Muslims."

NELC Egyptology Student Hilo Sugita Wins NELC Travel Award!

We have moved! We are no longer in Goodbody Hall, our home of many years. Our office is in the east wing of the brand new Global and International Studies Building, office space 3050: take the elevator to the third floor, and we are on the right.

Our beautiful new home!

The NELC office has been busy settling into our new spaces at the Global and International Studies Building. We are thankful to our faculty and students for providing the office with wonderful decorative pieces from all over the Middle East. Come vist us and say "Marhaba"!

Check out our Spring 2016 course listings!


The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures is excited to spotlight Professor Iman Alramadan, one of NELC's newest professors! Professor Alramadan loves and teaches the Arabic language.

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Upcoming Events

NELC is thrilled to welcome Prof. Charles Butterworth from the University of Maryland for the 14th Annual Victor Danner Memorial Lecture! Details to follow.

Looking for some great films to kill time and boost your Arabic language skills? The Department of NELC is excited to present the Arabic Film Series taking place througout the spring semester of 2016. Come for Arabic-language fun!

Are you interested in classical Arabic literature? Visiting Scholar Dr. Mustafa M. Binmayaba is pleased to offer a series of workshops on Poets and Caliphs in Classical Arabic Literature. See this flyer for further information about workshop dates and topics. Dr. Binmayaba is also pleased to be able to offer his assistance to NELC students of all levels in Arabic language and literature. All workshops will be in English.


Read the 2015 NELC Newsletter

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