Dr. Emily Jane O’Dell is the author of The Gift of Rumi (St. Martins, July, 2022) and a renowned expert on Sufism and Islamic law. She has spent over two decades visiting Sufi masters from Indonesia to Mali, studied Sufi whirling in Cairo and Istanbul, and preserved historic Sufi shrines on the Silk Road. For her expertise in Islamic law, she has been a Research Scholar in Law and Islamic Law and Civilization Research Fellow at Yale Law School, and an editor for Harvard Law School’s SHARIASource.
Stateside she has taught at Columbia, Brown, and Harvard, where she received an award for teaching excellence, and she has also taught abroad as the Whittlesey Chair of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut, an Associate Professor at Sichuan University–Pittsburgh Institute in China, and an Assistant Professor at Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman. She has taught Sufi whirling in Istanbul, Beirut, and New York.
For her in-country field research on Sufism, she has received many prestigious fellowships and been an Edward A. Hewett Policy Fellow
(Tajikistan & Afghanistan), a Fulbright Fellow (Indonesia), a Harvard Traveling Fellow (Iran), a Columbia University Pepsico Fellow
(Uzbekistan/Karakalpakstan), an IREX Fellow (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic & Hungary), an American Center for Mongolian Studies Fellow (Mongolia), an American Councils Fellow (Turkmenistan), and a State Department Critical Language Fellow
Her research on Sufism and Islamic history can be found in the International Journal of Persian Literature, Iranian Studies,
Journal of Global Slavery, Journal of Africana Religions, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Journal of Literary and
Cultural Disability Studies, Disability & Society, and Harvard Law School’s SHARIASource. Her writing has appeared in The New York
Times, The Louisville Review, Al Jazeera, NPR, CounterPunch, Salon, TRT World, The Christian Science Monitor, and Huffington Post.
Currently a professor at Parami University in Myanmar and a fellow at the American Institute for Indonesian Studies in Java, she is
presently writing a memoir about her adventures in China and Tibet.