Suleiman MOURAD

Professor of Religion, Smith College, Northampton, USA

Fellowship : 7-18 January and May and June 2019 as Associate Fellow (previous fellowships: May to June 2018 and October 2012 to June 2013)

Discipline(s) : History

Area(s) of expertise : Etudes religieuses

Pays : Etats-Unis

Research Project: Violence and Nonviolence in Islamic Foundational Texts and Practice

The modern discussion of whether Islam promotes or prohibits violence is steeped in political and religious controversy, and has been shaping the public discussion of Islam in all its aspects. There is no point denying that Muslims who commit acts of religious/political violence find legitimacy and empowerment in a wide array of religious and historical texts and in the historical Muslim practice. There is also a tradition, which has existed throughout Islamic history, of nonviolence displayed in a rich legacy of religious and ideological diversity and tolerance among Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims. The two traditions have been seen as opposites and as reflecting different worldviews. I argue that we must avoid this binary compartmentalization of the issue: Islam is violent or Islam is nonviolent, this form of Islam is nonviolent and that form of Islam is violent, etc. Instead, my research project will focus on examining violence and nonviolence in Islam as reflective of unresolved struggle in the foundational texts (e.g., the Qurʾan, the Hadith of Muhammad, etc.) and the historical tradition and practice. The objective is to understand the nature and rationale of this struggle, and the way it has impacted Muslims’ practice of violence and nonviolence.

Previous research project ( Fellowship 2012-2013) : "Radicalization of Jihad Ideology in Crusader Syria: Religious Fanaticism or Political Manipulation?"

This research project examines a number of works on jihad produced in Syria during the Crusader period, and which have not been used in modern scholarship on the Muslim response to the Crusades or jihad in Islam. The project has four aspects: First, Suleiman Mourad will survey these works, analyze their introductions and the broad topics they cover, and determine the jihad vision they promote. Second, he will examine the involvement of rulers in the commissioning and promotion of these works. Third, he will study the scholars who produced them, determine what influenced them and how their jihad works influenced later scholars. And fourth, he will investigate the maneuvering of Muslim rulers who pursued diplomatic overtures with local Crusader and European leaders yet actively sponsored scholars to produce and disseminate militant visions of jihad against Crusaders and fellow Muslims.


Suleiman A. Mourad is Professor of Religion at Smith College, USA. His research focuses on Islamic history and religious thought, the Qurʾan, Jerusalem, Jihad ideology, and on the challenges of modernity that led to major changes in Muslims’ perception of and attitude towards their own history and classical thought. His publications include The Intensification and Reorientation of Sunni Jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period (Brill 2013), and The Mosaic of Islam (Verso 2016) / La mosaïque de l’islam (Fayard 2016). His research has benefitted from major awards, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, USA (2008–2009), Nantes’ Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, France (2012–2013), and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation experienced researcher fellowship, Germany (2013–2014).  He appeared and served as historical advisor on several film documentaries, including The Sultan and the Saint (PBS TV, 2017), Jésus et l’islam (ARTE TV, 2015), and Jerusalem: Center of the World (PBS TV, 2008).

Major publications

MOURAD, Suleiman, KOLTUN-FROMM, Naomi, DER MATOSSIAN, Bedross (eds.). Routledge Handbook on Jerusalem. London: Routledge, 2019. 436 p.

MOURAD, Suleiman. “What Inspires Non-Violence and Violence in Islam? Some Religious and Historical Factors.” In Violence and Non-Violence Across Time: History, Religion and Culture. Ed. Sudhir Chandra. London: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 53–77.

MOURAD, Suleiman. “Why Did Ibn Taymiyya Hate Mount Lebanon? An Inquiry into the Medieval Ideology of Muslim-on-Muslim Violence.” In In the House of Understanding: Histories in Memory of Kamal Salibi. Eds. Abdul Rahim Abu Husayn, Tarif Khalidi, and Suleiman A. Mourad. Beirut: American University of Beirut Press, 2017. Pp. 373–388.

MOURAD, Suleiman.  La Mosaïque de l’Islam. Entretien sur le Coran et le djihadisme avec Perry Anderson. Coll. Poids et mesures du mondeParis: Fayard, 2016. (The Mosaic of Islam, Verso, 2016). 179 p.

MOURAD, Suleiman, LINDSAY, James E.  The Intensification and Reorientation of Sunni Jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period.  Leiden : Brill, November 2013. 222 p.