Omid Safi

Omid Safi is a leading public Muslim intellectual in America. He is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam and the current Chair for the Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion, the largest international organization devoted to the academic study of religion.

Omid is an award-winning teacher and speaker, and was nominated six times at Colgate University for the "Professor of the Year" award, and before that twice at Duke University for the Distinguished Lecturer award. At the University of North Carolina, he received the award for mentoring minority students in 2009, and the Sitterson Teaching Award for Professor of the Year in April of 2010.

He is the editor of the volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003). His work Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, was published by UNC Press in 2006. His Voices of Islam: Voices of Change, was published by Praeger in 2006. His last book was published by HarperCollins, titled Memories of Muhammad, and deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. He has a forthcoming volume from Princeton University Press on the famed mystic Rumi. The Carnegie Foundation recognized Omid as a leading Scholar of Islam in 2007-2008 for studying contemporary Islamic debates in Iran. That topic will be the topic of his next book from Harvard University Press. His volume on American Islam is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

He has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing frequently in the New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, and international media. He has recently been designated as a lead Islam writer for the Huffington Post, and the lead Muslim writer for the Religion News.

Omid Safi is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. An award-winning teacher and speaker, his most recent book, Memories of Muhammad, looks at the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad.


Posts By This Author

Unexpected Hope for Iran in the Presidential Elections: Hassan Rouhani

by Omid Safi 06-13-2013

A man casts his vote in front of the flag of Iran. Photo courtesy Vepar5/

Remember Iran? You know, the place where we first saw massive demonstrations for freedom and dignity, before the Arab Spring?

While our eyes are fixed on Turkey (and rightly so), and while the world neglects Syria, Myanmar, Palestine, and other atrocities, something dramatic might be brewing in Iran.

Iranians are going to the ballot box to choose their next president. After eight years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it is an opportunity to chart a new direction for the country.

The Lord Says: 'Love Thy (Muslim) Neighbor': Jewish and Christian Groups Reach Out to Muslims

by Omid Safi 10-05-2012

The racist, anti-Muslim ad in the New York Subway that used the language of civilized and savages has more than met its match.

A large group of Jews and Christians have countered that hateful message by tapping into the rich mines of neighborly love that are at the heart of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions.     

New ads by Rabbis for Human Rights , United Methodist Women, and Sojourners have tapped into the rich religious commandment to “love thy neighbor” to remind all of us to love our neighbors.

Is Iran Really a Threat?

by Omid Safi 02-07-2012

It seems like every day we hear from another politician saying that “we are ready to attack Iran if necessary," or from another pundit full of hot air telling us why we should invade Iran right now.

The presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, has said that he would support “something of a surgical-strike nature, to something of a ‘decapitate the regime’ nature to eliminate the military threat of Iran altogether.” President Obama has said:   “Every option is on the table.” All of these conversations typically go along the lines of emphasizing how Iran poses a serious and immediate threat to the United States.

As was the case in the conversations leading up to the 2003 Iraq war, there is much heat, and not a whole lot of light.