Jamal J. Elias is the Director of the Wolf Humanities Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in Islamic thought, literature and history in Western, Central and South Asia, with a focus on Sufism and Visual Culture.
He regularly teaches courses in his areas of specialization, on Islam and modernity and on comparative religion, as well as advanced graduate courses in Qur’anic Studies as well as Persian and Turkish religious literature. His most recent books are On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford 2011), Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge, 2012), and Alef is for Allah: Childhood, Emotion and Visual Culture in Islamic Societies (Berkeley, 2018). His writings have been translated into at least nine languages. At present he is writing a book on the history of the Mevlevi order (Rumi’s followers) from shortly after Rumi’s death until the advent of modernity, focusing on the role of interpersonal relationships and the impact of social changes on the use of language. He is also the lead investigator on a project entitled “Art and Islam in Society: Aesthetic Cognition Expanding Religious Meaning,” funded by the Temple Religion Trust.