Zayn Kassam

Emerita Professor of Religious Studies
With Pomona Since: 1995
  • Expertise


    Zayn Kassam is the John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College, Claremont, California. A graduate of McGill University (Ph.D. 1995), she teaches courses on mysticism, gender, literature, ethics, and the environment.

    She has lectured widely on gender issues in the United States, Canada, and Britain. She has been honored with three Wig Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Pomona College, as well as an American Academy of Religion Excellence in Teaching Award.​

    Kassam is the author of Introduction to the World's Major Religions: Islam (2006), and editor of Women and Islam (2010) and Women in Asian Religions (2018). She is also the section editor for Islam for the volume on Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism for the Encyclopedia of Indian Religions (2018).

    She has chaired the department of religious studies at Pomona College, and has coordinated the programs in gender and women’s studies, Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies. She is currently the director of the Pacific Basin Institute. She serves on several national editorial boards, including the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

    Research Interests

    • Muslim Migration

    Areas of Expertise

    • Gender and Islam
    • Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism
    • Religion and the Environment
  • Work


    “Caught in the Crosshairs: Muslims and Migration.” Ch. 7 in Religion, Protest, and Social Upheaval, edited by Matthew T. Eggemeier, Peter Joseph Fritz, and Karen V. Guth, Fordham University Press, 2021.

    “Muslimah Theology and Praxis.” Ch. 14 in Handbook on Women’s Studies in Religion, edited by Helen Boursier, Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

    “Mernissi, Fatima.” Entry for Encyclopedia of Islam, Third Edition, 2021.

    “Muslims and Migration:  Global Realities, Local Opportunities.” Chapter in Where are we? Pastoral Environments and Care for Migrants, edited by Daniel Schipani, Martin Walton, Dominiek Lootens, Society for Intercultural Pastoral Care and Counselling, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2017.

    “Muslim Liberative Approaches and Legal Dilemmas Towards Gender Justice.” Chapter in The Bible and Feminism: Remapping the Field,.” (Edited by Yvonne Sherwood. Oxford University Press, 2017).

    “Child Soldiers and the Militarization of Children:  A Muslim Ethical Response to the Situation in the Sudan.” Chapter in The Bloomsbury Reader in Religion and Childhood.  (Edited by Anna Strhan, Stephen Parker, and Susan Ridgely.  Bloomsbury Press, 2017).

    “Muslims in America: The Challenges of Migration and the Construction of Religious Identities.” Chapter in Intersections of Religion and Migration: Issues at the Global Crossroads. (Edited by Jennifer B. Saunders, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, and Susanna Snyder.  Under contract with Palgrave MacMillan, 2017).

    “Gender.” Substantively revised entry for The Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. (2nd edition, 2016).

    With Bridget Blomfield, “Remembering Fāṭimah and Zaynab:  Gender in Perspective.” Chapter in The Shi’a World.  (Edited by Amyn Sajoo, Farhad Daftary, and Shainool Jiwa.  Muslim Heritage Series, I.B. Tauris for The Institute of Ismaili Studies. UK, 2015).

    “Religious Studies and Hermeneutics.”  Entry for Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. (Ed. Suad Joseph. Brill. 2014).

    “Islam and Food.” Entry for The Encyclopedia of Food. (Entry jointly authored with Sarah Robinson.  Springer Press 2014).

    “September 11, 2001, and Islam.” Ch. 44 in Scott S. Elliott, ed., Reinventing Religious Studies:  Key Writings in the History of a Discipline.  (UK, Acumen Publishing 2014).

    “Dignity and Relationality: A Conversation with Zayn Kassam.” Chapter in Speaking of the Qur’an. (Edited by Michael Berkel. Baylor University Press, 2014). 

    “Re-Reading the Qur’ān from a Gender Perspective.” Chapter in Feminist Biblical Studies in the 20th Century. (Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, ed., Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2014).

    “Theologies and Ethics of Migration: Muslim and Christian Perspectives.” Co-authored with Susanna Snyder, Anna Rowlands, and Narzanin Massoumeh. Chapter in Rescripting Religion in the City: Migration and Religious Identity in the Modern Metropolis. (Alana Harris and Jane Garnett, eds., Ashgate Press, 2013).

    “Constructive Interreligious Dialogue Concerning Muslim Women.” Chapter in Women and Interreligious Dialogue. (Catherine Cornille, ed., Boston University Press, 2013).

    “Islam, Gender, and Peace.” Chapter in Terrorism, Religion, and Global Peace: From Conception to Praxis. (K. Kuriakose, ed., Gorgias Press, 2012).

    “Whom Shall I Kill?” Chapter in Encountering the Stranger: A Jewish, Christian, Muslim Trialogue. (John Roth and Leonard Grob, eds., University of Washington Press, 2012).

    “Necrophilia and Voyaging: Some Curious Connections.” Special Issue Celebrating and Cerebrating Mary Daly (1928–2010). Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 28:2, 2012.

    “The Challenges of Globalization for Muslim Women.” Chapter in The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology. (Mary McClintock Ferguson and Sheila Briggs, eds., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

    “The Gender Policies of Aga Khan III and Aga Khan IV.” Chapter 5 in A Modern History of the Ismailis. (Farhad Daftary, ed., I.B. Tauris and The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2011).

    Other Work

    Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. Islam Section Editor (Springer, 2018).

    Women and Asian Religions. Editor.  Women and Religion in the World Series. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger ABC-CLIO, 2017).

    Editor, Women and Islam (Praeger, 2010)

    Introduction to the World's Major Religions: Islam (Greenwood Press, December 2006).

  • Education


    • Ph.D., History of Religions, 1995, McGill University
    • M.A., Islamic Studies, 1985, McGill University
    • B.A., Religious Studies, 1977, McGill University


    Recent Courses Taught

    • Critical Inquiry Seminar
    • Divine Body: Rel and Environment
    • Engendering and Experience: Women in the Islamic Tradition
    • Religion, Ethics, and Social Practice
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    • American Academy of Religion, National Teacher of the Year Award, 2005
    • Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1998, 2005, & 2015
    • Theta Alpha Kappa Kathleen Connolly-Weinart Leader of the Year Award, 2015