Religion and Society, Islamic Studies, Islam and the West, African Diaspora Studies, Globalism and Cultural Diversity, Urban Studies, Transnational Migration, Inter-Group Relations


Zain Abdullah holds a doctorate in cultural anthropology from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He is an Associate Professor in the Religion Department at Temple, and a faculty affiliate in the Department of Geography & Urban Studies. His current work focuses on the interplay of race, religion and ethnicity, and his writings cover an array of topics including Islamic Studies and contemporary Islam, African American Muslims and Islam in America, religion and society, African Diaspora Studies, globalization and transnationalism and inter-group dynamics. Professor Abdullah’s articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Anthropological Quarterly, the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, the Journal of History and Culture, African Arts, the Middle East Journal, and other periodicals.

He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Star Ledger, Reuters-Worldwide Religious News and other media outlets for his work on race, Islam, immigration, inter-group relations and other topics. He has earned awards from the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the National Museum of African Art, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the International Center for Migration, Ethnicity, and Citizenship in New York City in addition to a New Jersey State Assembly Resolution in recognition of his service to the citizens of the state. As a recipient of the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship award for 2011-2012, he is working on several book projects including one on Black Muslim conversion and the Nation of Islam.

Selected Publications


  • A God of Our Own: Malcolm X and His Battle for the Soul of America (forthcoming book)
  • Temple 25: Black Religiosity and the Rise of American Islam (forthcoming book)
  • Black Mecca: The African Muslims of Harlem (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Selected Book Reviews Fof Black MECCA

  • Islamic Africa, reviewed by Markus Dressler (2013), 4, no. 1, pp. 128-132.
  • Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, reviewed by Chernoh M. Sesay, Jr. (2012), pp.1-3
  • Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review, reviewed by Göran Larsson (2012), 2, no. 2, pp. 369-370.
  • American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, reviewed by Yushau Sodiq (2012), vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 134-137.
  • The Journal of African American History, reviewed by Courtney Lyons (2012) vol. 97, no 1-2, pp. 197-199.
  • Black Theology: An International Journal, reviewed by Richard Reddie (November 2011), vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 381-382.
  • Sociology of Religion, reviewed by John L. Jackson, Jr. (Winter 2011), vol. 72, no. 4, pp. 488-490.
  • American Anthropologist, reviewed by Erin E. Stiles (September 2011), vol. 113, no. 3, pp. 511-512.
  • Social Service Review, “Brief Notes” published by The University of Chicago Press (September 2011), vol. 85m no. 3, pp. 528-529.
  • Choice, American Library Association, reviewed by Juliane Hammer (April 2011)

Articles And Book Chapters

  • “Yakub’s Lament: The Nation of Islam, Sunni Muslims and the Challenge of Black Suffering,” in The Oxford Handbook of African American Islam, ed. Aminah McCloud (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2014).
  • “Malcolm X, Islam and the Black Self,” in Malcolm X’s Michigan Worldview: An Exemplar for Contemporary Black Studies, eds. Rita Kiki Edozie and Curtis Stokes (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2015).
  • “A Muslim’s Search for Meaning,” Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Winter/Spring 2014, vol. 42, nos. 1 & 2, pp. 22-32. {This is a featured article chosen for the journal cover} Access the article here.
  • “American Muslims in the Contemporary World: 1965 to the Present,” in The Cambridge Companion to American Islam, eds. Omid Safi and Juliane Hammer (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013)
  • “Transnationalism and the Politics of Belonging: African Muslim Circuits in Western Spaces,” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Dec. 2012, 32(4), pp. 427-449.
  • “Narrating Muslim Masculinities: The Fruit of Islam and the Quest for Black Redemption,” Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men, Autumn 2012, 1(1): 141-178.
  • “Towards an African Muslim Globality: The Parading of Transnational Identities in Black America,” in West African Migrations: Transnational and Global Pathways in a New Century, eds. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome and Olufemi Vaughan (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
  • “Objects of Desire: Shopping for Identity and the Meaning of Africa at the Harlem Market,” African Arts, 2011, Winter, 44 (4): 8-21.
  • “Life As Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East by Asef Bayat. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010,” reviewed by Zain Abdullah, Middle East Journal, Spring 2011, 65 (2): 346-348.
  • “Culture, Community and the Politics of Muslim Space,” Journal of History and Culture, 2010, Summer, vol. 1 (3): 8-24.
  • “West African ‘Soul Brothers’ in Harlem: Immigration, Islam, and the Black Encounter” in Black Routes to Islam edited by Manning Marable and Hishaam D. Aidi (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
  • “Sufis on Parade: The Performance of Black, African and Muslim Identities,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 2009, June 77(2), 199-237.
  • “African ‘Soul Brothers’ in the ‘Hood: Immigration, Islam and the Black Encounter,” Anthropological Quarterly, 2009, Winter 82(1): 37-62.
  • “Negotiating Identities: A History of Islamization in Black West Africa,” Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, vol. 10, no. 1, 2008, pp. 5-18.
  • “West Africa,” Encyclopedia of American Immigration, James Ciment (ed.) (Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2001), pp. 1070-1078.


  • Director, Cinematographer: “Blessed and Highly Favored.” A film by Zain Abdullah, documentary short. New York, NY., color, 13 mins., (Fall) 2009. 
  • Editorial Advisor: “Dollars and Dreams: West Africans in New York,” a documentary film by Jeremy Rocklin and Blue Saxophone Films, New York, NY. Color, 56 mins., 2007. Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources (DER).


  • Photographic Work: Photos in Akel Kahera, Latif Abdulmalik, and Craig Anz. (2009). Design Criteria for Mosques and Islamic Centers: Art, Architecture, and Worship (New York: Elsevier / Architectural Press)
  • Figure 1.2 “Masjid Malcolm Shabazz,” p. 3; Figure 4.0 “Islamic Cultural Center, New York, Geometric Pattern,” p. 54 Figure 4.2 “Lower Level Prayer Space, Arabesque Patterns, Floral Motifs, and Calligraphy,” p. 55 
  • Figure 4.7 (repeat of Figure 4.2), p. 58; Figure 4.16 “Islamic Cultural Center of New York,” 2 photos, p. 68.

Courses Taught


  • African American Islam 
  • Islam in Global Perspective
  • Foundations in Religion and Public Life 
  • Foundations in Islam 


  • Religion and Society
  • Contemporary Religious Thinkers
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Islam in America
  • Racial Justice: A Religious Mandate for Obedience and Revolt

Media Mentions

Dr. Zain Abdullah Quoted In the Philadelphia Inquirer
via The Philadelphia Inquirer on February 01, 2022

Dr. Zain Abdullah Quoted In the Philadelphia Inquirer

Dr. Zain Abdullah was interviewed by Jeff Gammage for...

Temple University Logo
via The New York Times on March 11, 2020

Blue Viper featured in the New York Times

By Shane Ross

The popular Philadelphia band, Blue Viper, was mentioned in the NY Times article about the underground rock scene reemrging throughout the country...