Zaleski, John

Humanities Research Fellow Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Email: jz95@nyu.edu
Education: BA, Dartmouth College; MA, Harvard University; PhD, Harvard University

Research Areas: Asceticism, Sufism, Monasticism, Syriac Christianity, Muslim-Christian Interaction, Scriptural Exegesis, Islamic Theology & Philosophy


John’s research examines Muslim and Christian writing on ascetic practice within the early Islamic world. John’s work in this field began at Harvard University, where he defended his doctoral dissertation in April 2019. His studies have also led him to archival research at mosque libraries in Istanbul and Fes, as well as at European manuscript libraries.

As a fellow at NYUAD, John will complete a monograph tentatively entitled A Common Tongue: Muslims, Christians, and The Formation of a New Language of Asceticism in Early Islam. This book will show how Muslims and Christians responded to each other’s understandings of piety, eventually developing a shared, but often contested, set of terms, stories, and ideals concerning asceticism. The book will also help uncover the legacy of Christian authors from the Gulf region, who played a major role in developing Christian ascetic ideals throughout the formative years of Islam. In addition, John will continue separate projects in the fields of Muslim and Christian scriptural exegesis and of kalām, or rational theology.