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Malika Zeghal

Faculty Associate


Malika Zeghal

Malika Zeghal is the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at Harvard University. She is also a member of the Committee on the Study of Religion and a Senior Scholar at the Harvard Academy. Her research focuses on the interaction between Islam and politics in the modern Middle East. She is particularly interested in studying modern Muslim states and their religious institutions, as well as the intellectual and political genealogies of Islamist movements in the region. She also has an interest in modern Islamic intellectual history in the Middle East, Europe and North America.

An alumna of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de la Rue d'Ulm (Paris, France), Malika Zeghal holds a PhD in Political Science from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (1994). Before joining Harvard University in 2010, she was Associate Professor of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is a Member of the Scientific Council of the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters (Beit al-Hikma).

Malika Zeghal has published a study of the Egyptian ulama of al-Azhar since the 1950s and of their various forms of engagement with politics (Gardiens de l'Islam. Les oulémas d'al-Azhar dans l'Egypte contemporaine [Presses de Sciences Po, 1996]). She has also published a volume on Islam and politics in contemporary Morocco (Islamism in Morocco: Religion, Authoritarianism, and Electoral Politics [Markus Wiener, 2008]), which highlights in particular the role of Shaykh Yassine's political mysticism in the Islamist political opposition to the Moroccan monarchy, and has won the French Voices-Pen American Center Award. She has also edited a special issue of the Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée, Intellectuels de l'islam contemporain. Nouvelles générations, nouveaux débats [123, 2008], on contemporary liberal Muslim thought. Her most recent book (The Making of the Modern Muslim State: Islam and Governance in the Middle East and North Africa [Princeton University Press, 2024]) traces the continuity of the state’s custodianship of Islam as the preferred religion in the Middle East and North Africa.

With a team of graduate students in NELC, she is currently building a digital map of Islamic intellectual networks in the Maghrib and Egypt in the 1920s and 1930s. This project, called Afkar, is supported by a Grant from the Lasky-Barajas Dean’s Innovation Fund for Digital Arts and Humanities.


  • Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life & Director of Graduate Studies, Harvard University
  • Member of the Committee on the Study of Religion, Harvard University
  • Senior Scholar, Harvard Academy, Harvard University
  • Faculty Associate, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University