Graduate Theological Union

CIS Students and Alumni

"The students who come to the GTU for Islamic studies are interested in serious academic study of the Islamic tradition within its theological, historical, and cultural contexts, and they want to do so in an interdisciplinary, intercultural, interreligious and intra-religous environment, where practice of faith matters. Students at the Center for Islamic Studies come from diverse backgrounds and traditions, and value the environment here at the GTU where that diversity is respected."

--Munir Jiwa, Director, Center for Islamic Studies 

Below you'll find a list of current students and graduates affiliated with the Center for Islamic Studies, along with each scholar's thesis or dissertation topic.


Current MA Students (with thesis topic)

Saad Akbar

Suheyla Cetin

Islamic Chaplaincy in the Bay Area (np)

James Ford

(on leave)


Siddique A. Gilchrist

Faith and Spirituality: The African Muslim Slave Experience






Kamran Khan

Demonizing Islam with Islam: The Exploitation of Tradition and the Proliferation of Anti-Islamic Rhetoric in Popular Media and Contemporary Political Discourse (np)


Ahmad Ibrahim Moss

The Impact of Sharia Compliant Lending Practices on Enhancing Economic Efficiency, Closing Equity Gaps, and Increasing Treasury Surpluses




Hameem Rahman


Taqwa Surapati

Understanding Death in Islam as a Guiding Concept: Role of Spiritual Care in Maintaining Human Dignity in End of Life Situation






Current PhD Students
(with Dissertation Topics or Areas)

Kamal Abu-Shamsieh

End of Life Care and Islamic Practical Theology






Murat Bilici

Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion





Mahjabeen Dhala

Presidential Scholar in Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation





Uzma Husaini

The Seven Liberal Arts as a Foundation for Muslim Civilization


Reem Javed

Critical Pedagogy, Islamic Studies, and Women’s Studies (np)


Ahmed Khater

The Implementation of Fiqh Al-Nawazil in the West: Takhrij and Ijtihad Within the Four Sunni Schools of Jurisprudence





May Kosba

Presidential Scholar in Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion





Rasheeda Plenty

Continuities and Breaks between Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam and Imam W.D. Muhammad's Community (Tentative)





Abdul Hamid Robinson-Royal

Re/Imagining Masculinities: The Construction and Performance of an Aesthetics of American Muslim Subjectivity





Mohammad Waqas Sajjad

Deobandi and Barelvi Discourses of Conflict in Pakistan: Traditionalism, Modernity and Religious Polemics (np)

Amin Tejpar


Paula Thompson

Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion







Islamic Studies Certificate Students and Alumni

Therese Bjornaas (Currently in PhD program)

Benjamin Griffin (Common MA, Grad 5/13)

Meredith Jackson (PSR MDiv, Grad 5/13)

Dianne Muller (DSPT MA [Theology], Grad 5/11)

John Compaglia (Common MA, Grad 5/10)

Sara Mohr (Common MA, Grad 5/09)

Michael Gutzler (Common MA, Grad 5/06)

Alexis Easton (PSR MDiv, Grad 5/93)


MA Graduates (with Thesis Topics)

Mahjabeen Dhala

The Right to Choose Piety: Understanding Muslim Women’s God-centric Choice from a Shia Perspective





Paula Thompson

A New Normal: Islam, Countering Violent Extremism, and The Creation of ‘Muslim Subjects’ in America

Grad 5/12/16





Ahmed Khater

A Theoretical Study of Classical Islamic Jurisprudence: The Application of Marjuh Legal Opinions





May Kosba

From Ikhwanophobia to Islamophobia: Post-Colonial Cultural Nationalism in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

Grad 10/21/16




Reem Kosba

Contemporary Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt: Secularism, Violence, and the Challenges of Conflict Resolution

Grad 10/21/16





Rania Shah

Al-Ghazali on Reason and Revelation: A Revival in the Heart of the Islamic Scholarly Tradition

Grad 10/21/16




Saad Shaukat

Shibli Nomani's Contribution to Kalam

Grad 10/21/16






Sammy Rahmati

Understanding and Countering Islamophobia

Grad 10/16/15





Murat Bilici

The Role of Islam in Kurdish Cultural Identity in America

Grad 10/16/15




Sundiata Al Rashid

From Bean Pie to Baklava: Islam in the San Francisco Bay Area

Grad 10/29/14


David Hiller

Breathe in Union: A Brief Look at Islamic Pluralism

Grad 10/29/14


Deenaz Kanji

Transformation in Contemporary Sufism: Contested Meanings and New Mediations of the Qawwali Tradition

Grad 5/8/14



Farah El-Sharif

"Making light" of Islam: Representations of Sufism in American Religion and the Public Sphere

Grad 10/18/13



Sarah Heddon

The Madrasa Early Childhood Program: An Integrated Model of Islamic Education in Kenya

Grad 10/18/13



Fateme Montazeri

Why Death?: An Inquiry into Text and Context in Persian Painting

Grad 10/18/13



Yahya Rhodus

Keys to the Revival: An Analytical Study of the Architecture of al-Ghazālī's Iḥyā' 'Ulūm al-Dīn

Grad 5/10/12


James Whipple

Reviving the Heart: The Heart, Knowledge, and Spiritual Transformation in al-Ghazālī's Revival of the Religious Sciences

Grad 10/19/12


PhD Graduates (with Dissertation Topics)


Som Pourfarzaneh

Muslim Cultural Producers in The United States: Countering Stereotypes With Media+, Social Networks, and Cultural Capital

Grad 5/9/13



Abdullah Ali

The “Negro” in Afro-Arabian Muslim Consciousness

Grad 5/10/12



Ali Ataie

Authenticating the Johannine Injil: Sunnite “Polemirenic” Interpretive Methodological Approaches to the Gospel of John

Grad 10/21/11



Hatice Yildiz

Revisiting the Qizilbash/Alevi Tradition in Light of 17th Century Mecmua Manuscripts

Grad 5/11/17