Youshaa Patel’s primary area of specialization crosses the intersection of Islam, ethics and public life, with special interests in inter-religious cooperation and conflict as well as Islamic scripture and law. Both his teaching and research draw upon sustained cultural engagement with the Middle East and South Asia; it includes research stays in India, Qatar, Yemen, Jordan, and a Fulbright-Hays fellowship in Syria.
Prior to joining Lafayette College, Patel was an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, a Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow at Lehigh University, and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.
Patel earned his Ph.D. and M. Phil. from Duke University through the Graduate Program of Religion, and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.
Courses taught at Lafayette College
REL: 101 Religions in World Cultures
REL: 207 The Quran
REL: 215 Islam
REL: 260 Global Muslim Literature and Film
REL: 304 Spirituality and Transformation: From Sufism to Self-Help
REL: 305 Muhammad and Prophecy
Professor Patel’s current research program explores how and why the first Muslims initially assimilated Jewish and Christian religious and cultural practices into Islam but later shifted their religious policy from imitation to distinction. Drawing upon an array of Arabic literary sources spanning ethics and exegesis, narratives and chronicles, It highlights the power of everyday practices such as dress and hairstyle, festivals and funerary rites to shape Muslim interactions with Jews, Christians and others in the pre-modern Middle East. By emphasizing how body, sense, and space aesthetically mediate Muslim religious life, Patel illustrates how religion is not just cognitively understood through belief; it is felt, heard, seen and touched.
“Seclusion.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. Edited by Natana DeLong-Bas. Vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.