February 28, 2007
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Jamal J. Elias, the Class of 1965 Term Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak on “Must God be Rational? (The Pope and) Ethical Constraints in Islam” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, in the Paino Lecture Hall in the Earth Science Building at Amherst College. Elias will give two additional Willis D. Wood Distinguished Lectures in Islam: “Jews, and Christians, and Muslims, Oh My! Revisiting the Concept of ‘People of the Book’” on Thursday, March 29, and “Islam, Mis/Representation, and the Defenders of God” on Wednesday, April 25. All three lectures will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Paino Lecture Hall in the Earth Sciences Building. The events are free and open to the public. The series is being sponsored by the Amherst College Religion Department and the Willis D. Wood Fund.

Elias is a prominent scholar of Islam with a concentration in Islamic intellectual history in the Middle East and South Asia. He has written books on a variety of topics, including The Throne Carrier of God (1995), a study of one of the most influential religious figures in medieval Iran, and Death Before Dying: The Sufi Poems of Sultan Bahu (1998), a translated collection of Sufi poetry from South Asia and Islam (2002), which has been translated into five languages. He has also studied art and the history of perception in Islamic contexts and is currently writing a book on the subject. A related book on truck decoration in Pakistan is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications.

Elias received his B.A. degree from Stanford University, an M.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. and a Ph.D. degree in religious studies from Yale University. He taught at Amherst College from 1989 until 2006.