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Tazim R. Kassam

Tazim R. Kassam

Tazim R. Kassam

Associate Professor


501 Hall of Languages
Office: 315.443.3861


Middle Eastern Studies
South Asian Studies


  • Ph.D., McGill University, 1993 Field: History of Religions (summa cum laude)
  • B.A., McGill University, 1984 Field: Philosophy and Religion (magna cum laude)
  • Hindustani Vocal Classical Music Diploma, University of Bombay, 1982

Courses Taught

  • REL 123 Religious Auto/Biography
  • REL 165 Islam
  • REL 364 Islamic Literatures
  • REL 367 Islamic Arts and Aesthetics
  • REL 465 Gender, Politics and Islamic Societies
  • REL 625 Pluralism in Islam
  • REL 628 Muslim Rituals, Practices, and Performances
Research and Teaching Interests

Professor Kassam is a historian of religions specializing in the Islamic tradition. Her research and teaching interests include gender, ritual, devotional literature, syncretism and the cultural heritage of Muslims particularly in South Asia. In her book Songs of Wisdom and Circles of Dance (1995), she explores the origins and creative synthesis of Hindu-Muslim ideas expressed in the song tradition of the Ismaili Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent. She has twice co-chaired the Study of Islam section of the American Academy of Religion, served as President of the Rocky Mountain - Great Plains Regional AAR Meeting, is a Lilly Teaching Scholar and is on the editorial board of JAAR. Her awards include fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also pursues interests in Indian classical vocal music, using learning technologies in the classroom, and doing community service.

  • Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Syracuse University, 2000-present.

    • Chair, SU Department of Religion, 2006-2008.
    • Director of Graduate Studies, SU Department of Religion, 2002-2004.
  • Associate Professor, Islam and South Asian Religions, Colorado College, 1999-2000.
  • Assistant Professor, Islam and South Asian Religions, Colorado College, 1997-1999.
  • Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies and Religion, Middlebury College, 1991-1997.
  • Instructor, Islamic Studies, Central Michigan University, 1989-1991.
  • Teaching Assistant and Lecturer, McGill University, 1985-1989.
  • “Daily Prayers of Ismaili Muslims.” DVD of Recitations by Mukhi Rahim Kassam Jivraj. Produced and edited by Tazim Kassam. ExoMedia Productions, 2005.
  • “Mowla Mowla!” CD Recording of Ginans (Ismaili Hymns) by Rahim, Tazim and Al-Karim Kassam Jivraj. Jacket notes includes transliterations and translations by Tazim Kassam. DMS Productions, 2003.
Editor, Spotlight on Teaching
  • “Signifying (on) Scripture: Text(ures) and Orientations,” Guest editor Vincent L. Wimbush, Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 23, No. 3, May 2008.
  • “Diversifying Knowledge Production: The Other within Christianity,” Guest editor Zayn Kassam, Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 22, No.4, October 2007.
  • “Religion, Media, and Teaching Religion,” Guest editor Tazim Kassam, Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 22, No. 3, May 2007.
  • “Teaching Difficult Subjects,” Guest editor Cynthia Humes, Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 21, No.4, October 2006.
  • “Reflections on a Teaching Career in Religion,” Guest editor Ed Mooney, Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 20, No. 4, October 2005.
  • “Embracing Disability in Teaching Religion,” Guest editor Kerry Wynn, Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2005.
  • “Teaching and Site Visits,” Tazim Kassam & Joyce Fluekinger, Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 19, No. 4, October 2004.
  • “Teaching about Religions, Medicines and Healing,” Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 19, No. 3, May 2004.
  • “Teaching about Religion and Violence,” Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 18, No. 4, October 2003.
  • “Teaching about Religion and Material Culture,” Spotlight on Teaching, Vol. 18, No. 3, May 2003.
  • “Teaching Religion and Music,” Spotlight on Teaching, Guest Editor, Tazim R. Kassam, Vol. 16, No. 3, May 2001.
Articles, Chapters & Notes (Academic Publications)
  • “Signifying Revelation in Islam,” Chapter 2 in Theorizing Scriptures: New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon, edited by Vincent Wimbush. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2008, 29-40.
  • “Reframing Ginanic Studies: Thoughts on Multiple Positions and Interpretive Tropes” Ginans: Texts and Contexts: Essays on Ismaili Hymns from South Asia in Honor of Zawahir Moir, edited by Tazim Kassam and Francoise Mallison. New Delhi: Matrix, 2007, 1-20.
  • Response to “Mapping Feminist Histories” by Margaret Miles in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Spring 2006, vol. 22, no. 1, 59-67.
  • “Salat,” in Encyclopedia of Religion (2nd Edition, 15 vols.), editor-in-chief Lindsay Jones. New York, MacMillan Reference: 2005, 8054-8058.
  • “Balancing Acts: Negotiating the Ethics of Scholarship and Identity,” Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion, ed. Sheila Devaney & Jose Cabezon, New York: Routledge, 2004, 133-161.
  • “On Being a Scholar of Islam: Risks and Responsibilities,” Progressive Muslims: on Gender, Justice and Pluralism, ed. Omid Safi, Oxford: OneWorld, 2003, 191-215.
  • “The Aga Khan Development Network: An Ethic of Sustainable Development and Social Conscience,” Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust, eds. Richard Foltz, Frederick Denny, & Azizan Baharrudin, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003, 477-496.
  • “Teaching and Learning in Religious Studies,” Teaching Islam in the Liberal Arts, ed. Brannon Wheeler, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, 191-215.
  • “The Daily Prayer (du'a) of the Ismaili Muslims,” The Religions of the United States in Practice, ed. Colleen McDannell, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001, vol. 2, 32-44.
  • “Shahid,” Harper's Dictionary of Religion , Gen. ed. Jonathan Z. Smith, American Academy of Religion, Harper & Row Publishers: 1995.
  • “Syncretism on the Model of Figure-Ground: A Study of Brahma Prakash,” Hermeneutical Paths to the Sacred Worlds of India, ed. Katherine Young, Scholars Press: 1994, 231-242.
Community Publications
  • “Ethics and Aesthetics in Islamic Arts,” The Ismaili USA, March 21, 2006, 5-8.
  • “Andalusian Journal,” Ismaili USA, December 2003, pp. 10-12.
  • “Paradigmatic Women in the Ginan Literature of the Satpanth Ismailis,” Hikmat, vol. III:6 (July 1992) 23-29.
  • “American Muslims and Received Images of the Prophet,” Hikmat, III: 4 (July 1990), 15-23.
  • “Music and Dance Workshops: A Canadian Showcase,” Bansuri, vol.5 (1988), 32-36.
  • “The Great Mystical Philosopher Ibn al-Arabi's Metaphysics of Being,” Ilm, (Dec 1985), 11-23.[reprinted in Hikmat, (March 1986), 25-30.]
  • “A Study in the Nature of Prophecy and its Interpretation in Islam,” Ilm, (March 1979), 10-22.