Mohammad R. Salama

Mohammad R. Salama

Mohammad R. Salama



Arabic: Classical Arabic; Qur’anic Studies; Comparative Literature; Intellectual History, Postcolonialism

I am a comparatist by training, Egyptian by birth, post-colonialist by way of theory, and a historical materialist when it comes to reading. I have a deep and keen investment in classical texts of Islam and the rise of Arabic literary theory concomitant with the birth of i‘jaz al-Qur’an discourse in the 9th and10th centuries. I am intellectually drawn to literary tafsir, which was the mean reason why I wrote The Qur’an and Modern Arabic Literary Criticism. I studied ancient Arabic grammar, pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, classical and modern Arabic literature, literary theory, modern philosophy, and postcolonial cultural trends in the Arab world and Europe. Before I moved to the US to obtain my PhD in comparative literature, I did all my undergraduate work and a good part of my graduate studies in ‘Ayn Shams University-Cairo.

The aftermath of 9/11, however, sparked my interest in writing about the status of Islam in a global world and prompted the writing of my first book, Islam, Orientalism and Intellectual History. Capturing the complexities of Islamophobia in global post-modernity required a particular kind of contextualizing. The chapters on Ibn Khaldūn, Hegel’s disregard of Islamic philosophy and Arabic translations of Plato and Aristotle, as well as the construction of Islam as a historical category in eighteenth and nineteenth-century European thought, for instance, all serve as a crucial prehistory to the troubling misrecognition of Arabs and Muslims in today’s world and invite us to rethink the much-maligned categorizations of “Islam” and “modernity” across the East/West divide.

 I continue to be fascinated by the rise of intellectual thought of visual culture, especially the pre-history of my own upbringing in postcolonial Egypt.  This is why I decided to write  Islam and the Culture of Modern Egypt, mostly in order to interrogate, but also understand from below, the roots of the tension between the secular and the sacred in the first 50 years of the last century. The point is to radically contextualizes the field of cultural production in modern Egypt in a network of epistemological conditions that underlie them all, establishing necessary links with the historical background of modern Egypt and the socio-political backdrops of intellectual and visual culture in the decades leading to the 1952 military coup and the rise of Nasserism.

Selected Publications


The Qur’ān and Modern Arabic Literary Criticism: From Țāhā to Naṣr (London: Bloomsbury, May 2018)

Islam and the Culture of Modern Egypt: From the Monarchy to the Republic (Cambridge University Press, December 2018)

 Islam, Orientalism, and Intellectual History: Modernity and the Politics of Exclusion since Ibn Khaldūn (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011)

 German Colonialism: Race, The Holocaust, and Postwar Germany. Co-edited with Volker Langbehn (New York: Columbia UP, 2011)

Recent Articles:

“Cairo in Her Eyes: Space and Gender Dynamics in Naguib Mahfouz’s Bayn al-Qasrayn.” Routledge Handbook on Cairo (Routledge, 2022).

 “The Untranslatability of the Qur’ānic City.” Chapter contribution to The City in Arabic Literature: Classical and Modern Perspectives. (Edinburgh UP, 2018)

“Fundamentalism” in Futures of Comparative Literature: ACLA Report on the State of the Discipline. Routledge (2017)

 “Naguib Mahfouz, The Postcolonial (Re)Turn” in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies. (New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016)

 “Postcolonial Arabic Literature” The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies (New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016)

أدب اﻟﻌﺎﻟﻢ ﺑﯿﻦ اﻟﻤﺮﻛﺰﯾﺔ و اﻟﺘﮭﻤﯿﺶ: ﻗﺮاءة ﻓﻲ اﻷدب اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻲ ﻣﺎ ﺑﻌﺪ الآستعمار.

ALIF: Journal of Comparative Poetics. A Special Issue on World Literature, No. 34 (2014)

“Science in Islam.” Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. ( Oxford UP, 2009)

“Arabs and the Arab World.” Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World. Oxford. (Oxford UP, 2008)