Skip over navigation

Wasim Shiliwala

Department/Program(s):
  • Near Eastern Studies
Position: Graduate Student
Title: 4th-year graduate student
Office: Jones Hall



I am a PhD candidate in the Near Eastern Studies department at Princeton University. My research focuses on Islamic law and the transformations of modernity in the Middle East and South Asia. 

My dissertation project is a comparative study of fatwas (legal opinions) issued at the turn of the 20th century by prominent Egyptian and Indian scholars on topics related to transformations in the realms of technology, society, and politics. By focusing on a few case studies as well as highlighting broader trends found within the fatwa literature, my project aims to add detail and focus to our understanding of how Muslim scholars—as well as the audiences who sought their advice—conceptualized and responded to the many rapid changes occurring in their societies during this period. Through careful consideration of a variety of case studies based on hitherto understudied sources, my work will provide a more robust account of legal change than is currently found in the secondary literature. 

In addition to my dissertation research, I am interested in the intellectual history of Islamic law and theology, particularly with regards to questions related to interpretation, authority, and tradition. I am eager to benefit from interdisciplinary discussions as well. For two years, I served on the board of the Princeton Islamic Studies Colloquium (PISC), which gathered students from both the humanities and the social sciences to discuss works in progress on a regular basis. This coming year, I will be a Graduate Fellow of the Center of the Study of Religion (CSR), and as such will participate in the weekly Religion and Culture workshop. 

I am also passionate about teaching and public engagement. So far, I have served as an Assistant Instructor for Muslims and the Qur’an (NES/REL 240), and will serve as an AI for Introduction to the Middle East (NES 201/HIS 223) this fall. I have also been involved with the McGraw Center on campus by participating in its year-long Teaching Seminar and serving as a McGraw Teaching Fellow. As for public engagement, I have delivered presentations and participated in panels on Islam, Islamic Law, and contemporary issues for public events held on campus and at the Princeton Theological Seminary.