Jonathan AC Brown

Jonathan Brown
Jonathan AC Brown
Associate Professor
260 ICC

Associate Professor 

Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding

Jonathan AC Brown is Associate Professor of Islam and Muslim Christian Relations in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. He received his BA in History from Georgetown University in 2000 and his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 2006.

Dr. Brown has studied and conducted research in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Iran. His book publications include The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon (Brill, 2007), Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Oneworld, 2009), Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy (Oneworld, 2014). He has published articles in the fields of Hadith, Islamic law, Salafism, Sufism, Arabic lexical theory and Pre-Islamic poetry and is the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law.

Dr. Brown’s current research interests include modern conflicts between Late Sunni Traditionalism and Salafism in Islamic thought.

Areas of Expertise: Islamic history, contemporary Islamic thought, Shariah, Middle Eastern History, Muslims in America, civil liberties

  • Ph.D. (2006) University of Chicago, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • B.A. (2000) Georgetown University, Georgetown College



Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy.  Oxford: Oneworld, 2014 (in press).


Very Short Introduction: Muhammad.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 (Very Short Introductions series).


Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World.  Oxford: Oneworld, 2009 (Foundations of Islam series).


The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: the Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon.  Leiden: Brill, 2007.




“Scripture in Modern Islam,” in Islam in the Modern World, ed. Jeff Kenney and Ebrahim Moosa, 13-34.  Routledge, 2013.


“Faithful Dissenters: Skepticism about the Miracles of Saints in Sunni Islam,” Journal of Sufi Studies 1, no. 2 (2012), 123-68.


“The Rules of Matn Criticism: There Are No Rules,” Islamic Law and Society 19, no. 4 (2012): 356-396.


“Scholars and Charlatans on the Baghdad-Khurasan Circuit from the Ninth to the Eleventh Centuries,” in The Lineaments of Islam, ed. Paul Cobb, 85-96 (Leiden: Brill, 2012).


“The Canonization of Ibn Majah: Authenticity vs. Utility in the Formation of the Sunni Hadith Canon,” Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, special issue on “Écriture de l’histoire et processus de canonisation dans le monde musulman des premiers siècles de l’islam. Hommage à Alfred-Louis de Prémare,” 129, July (2011): 169-81.


“Is the Devil in the Details?: Tension between Comprehensiveness and Minimalism in the Shariah,” Journal of Religious Ethics 39, no. 3 (2011): 458-72.


“Even if it’s not True it’s True: Using Unreliable Hadiths in Sunni Islam,” Islamic Law and Society 18 (2011): 1-52.


“Did the Prophet Say It or Not?: the Literal, Historical and Effective Truth of Hadiths in Sunni Islam,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 129, no. 2 (2009): 1-27.


“How We Know early Hadith Critics Did Matn Criticism and Why It’s So Hard to Find,” Islamic Law and Society 15 (2008): 143-84.


“New Data on the Delateralization of Dād and its Merger with Zā’ in Classical Arabic: Contributions from Old South Arabian and the Earliest Islamic Texts on Dad / Za’ Minimal Pairs,” Journal of Semitic Studies 52, no. 2 (2007): 335-368.


“Critical Rigor vs. Juridical Pragmatism: How Legal Theorists and Hadith Scholars Approached the Backgrowth of Isnads,” Islamic Law and Society 14, no.1 (2007): 1-41.


“The Last Days of al-Ghazzali and the Tripartite Division of Sufi World: Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali’s Letter to the Seljuq Vizier and Commentary.” The Muslim World 96, no. 1 (2006): 89-113.


“Criticism of the Proto-Hadith Canon: al-Daraqutni’s Adjustment of al-Bukhari and Muslim’s Sahihs.”  Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies 15/1 (2004): 1-37.


“The Social Context of Pre-Islamic Poetry: Poetic Imagery and Social Reality in the Mucallaqat.”  Arab Studies Quarterly 25/3 (2003): 29-50.