Zahra Ayubi

Academic Appointments

Assistant 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.

[show more]

Her next book project, Deciding for Women: Gender and Authority in Islamic Biomedical Ethics, 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 how Islamic biomedical thought and praxis demonstrate Muslim conceptions of women ontologically, metaphysically, and existentially.

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.


[show less]
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

Selected Publications

Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society, Columbia University Press, 2019. (forthcoming in Summer 2019)

"Muslim Ethics of Neonatal Care: Decision Making and Gender" in Religion and the Newborn. Ronald Green and George Little Eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2019 Forthcoming.

“Shifting Boundaries: The Study of Islam in the Humanities” Muslim World  106:4 (October 2016): 643-654; with Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst.

"Rereading Islamic Medieval Philosophy for Ethical Gender Relations in Modernity" Proceedings of the Religious and Philosophical Texts Symposium. Faculty of Theology, Istanbul University. 2012.

"Owning Terms of Leadership and Authority: Toward a Gender Inclusive Framework of American Muslim Religious Authority" in A Jihad for Justice: Honoring Work and Life of Amina Wadud. Laury Silvers, Kecia Ali, and Juliane Hammer, Eds., 2012.

"Negotiating Justice: American Muslim Women Navigating Islamic Divorce and Civil Law." Journal for Islamic Studies. Vol. 30, 2010. 78-102.

"Specific Issues in Muslim Divorce." The Family Law Review: Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. December 2006. 1-5.

Works in Progress

Deciding for Women: Gender and Authority in Islamic Biomedical Ethics