Associate Professor and Core Curriculum Director
Paul Powers teaches a range of courses about Islam and Religious Studies. His courses include “Islamic Origins,” “Islam in the Modern World,” “Religious Fundamentalism,” “Sufism: Islamic Mysticism,” and a seminar on Islamic law. Many of these courses explore theoretical and methodological questions about the nature and study of religion, as well as gender-related issues and questions about the nature of “modernity.” Prof. Powers’ research interests focus on pre-modern Islam, especially Islamic law. He has published articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion and Islamic Law and Society, as well as a book, Intent in Islamic law: Motive and Meaning in Medieval Sunni Fiqh (Brill, 2006). A central question of his research has been how Islamic law deals with human subjective states. He is currently undertaking a new project examining Islamic law in its cultural contexts, both pre-modern and modern; this project seeks to improve our understanding of how Muslims not formally educated in Islamic law have understood Islamic legal ideas, institutions, and representative persons (such as judges and legal scholars). He has traveled extensively in the Muslim world, including Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, and India.
Ph.D. 2001 University of Chicago Divinity School, History of Religions/Islamic Studies
M.A. 1992 University of Chicago Divinity School
B.A. 1990 Carleton College