Zahra Ayubi

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor of Religion

Zahra Ayubi is a scholar of women and gender in premodern and modern Islamic ethics.  She specializes in feminist philosophy of Islam and has published on gendered concepts of ethics, justice, and religious authority, and on Muslim feminist thought and American Muslim women’s experiences. Her first book, Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society (Columbia, 2019) rethinks the tradition of Islamic philosophical ethics from a feminist critical perspective. Developing a lens for a feminist philosophy of Islam, Ayubi analyzes constructions of masculinity, femininity, and gender relations in classic works of philosophical ethics by Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali, Nasir-ad Din Tusi, and Jalal ad-Din Davani. She interrogates how these thinkers conceive of the ethical human being as an elite male within a hierarchical cosmology built on the exclusion of women and nonelites. She calls for a philosophical turn in the study of gender in Islam based on resources for gender equality that are unlocked by feminist engagement with the Islamic ethical tradition.

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Her next book project, Women as Humans: Authority and Gendered Ontology in Islamic Medical Ethics, is being supported by a three-year grant from the Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholars Program. The project is a textual and ethnographic study of gender and gendered experiences in Muslim biomedical ethics. In addition to a focus on practical ethics, in this project she examines what are Muslim ontological, metaphysical, and existential conceptions of women.

Professor Ayubi teaches courses on Islam, gender in Islamic texts/Muslim thought, transnational Muslim feminist movements, and the core course in WGSS, Sex, Gender & Society.


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Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
B.A. Brandeis University
M.A. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ph.D. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill