Amir Hussain, AAR President 2023
I have worked for the past 25 years in Los Angeles, and will deliver my presidential address in San Antonio. In both cities, Spanish is the dominant language, but often isn’t recognized as such. I think that I am the fourth scholar of Islam (after Wilfred Cantwell Smith, John Esposito, and Jane McAuliffe) and the first Muslim to be elected as president. I want to say a few things about the study of Islam in particular, but also to connect that more generally to the work that we do in the study of religion, and think more broadly about what it is that we do when we do the work of our hands. Part of this involves looking at both the study of religion and the study of theology, and the often false dichotomy that is set up between the two. In that vein, I want to talk about some of the really interesting work being done in Islamic studies in constructive Muslim theology. But I also want to talk about the actual work that we do as scholars of religion, which often isn’t the production of scholarly monographs that are sometimes only read by a handful of people, but work that affects thousands. This connects both to the public understanding of religion, and the alternatives to traditional tenure-line roles in the academy.