Zachary Wright, PhD, is associate professor in residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, with joint appointments in history and religious studies. Wright received his PhD (history) from Northwestern University, with a dissertation focusing on the history of Islamic knowledge transmission in West Africa. He also has an MA in Arabic studies, Middle East history, from the American University in Cairo, and a BA in history from Stanford University.

He teaches classes on Islam in Africa, modern Middle East history, African history, Islamic intellectual history and Islam in America. His book publications include Living Knowledge in West African Islam: the Sufi Community of Ibrahim Niasse (Brill, 2015), and On the Path of the Prophet: Shaykh Ahmad Tijani and the Tariqa Muhammadiyya (AAII & Faydah Books, 2005, 2015). He has also translated a number of West African Arabic texts into English, with publications such as The Removal of Confusion concerning the Saintly Seal (Fons Vitae, 2010, and reprint forthcoming), Pearls from the Flood (Faydah Books, 2015), and Islam the Religion of Peace (Light of Eminence, 2013). His current research concerns eighteenth-century Islamic intellectual history in North Africa.


  • History 242, History of the Modern Middle East
  • History 242, Introduction to Modern African History
  • History 242, Medieval Muslim Empires
  • Religious Studies 242, Overview of Islamic Intellectual History
  • Religious Studies 242, Sufism
  • History 387, Colonialism and Decolonization in the Muslim World
  • History 387, Islam and the Shaping of African History
  • Religious Studies 387, Modern Reform Movements in Islam
  • Journalism 390, Islam, America, and the Media
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 301, The Doha Seminar: Qatar on the World Stage


  • The history of Muslim societies in West Africa
  • Islamic intellectual history and learning practices in West and North Africa, 19th century to the present
  • Islamic revival in the Middle East and Africa, in particular the networks of Islamic reform spanning the Muslim world in the 18th century and how they inspired social-religious movements in the 19thcentury
  • Contemporary Theology in the Muslim World

Awards & Grants


  • Teacher Award, Northwestern University in Qatar June, 2011
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, Al Noor High School, Brooklyn, NY June, 2005


  • Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research Grant, Senegal 2008-2009, “Embodied Knowledge and Shaykh-Disciple Relations in West African Islam”
  • Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) grant for Wolof language study. Summer 2007
  • Summer Cooperative African Language Institute (SCALI), Champaign, IL
  • Fulbright IIE Grant, Morocco 2002-2003, Arabic Language Study and Research on 18thCentury Islamic Reform
  • Graduate Merit Fellowship, American University in Cairo 2000-2002, Arabic Studies/Middle East History


Wright, Z. (2015) Salafi Theology and Islamic Orthodoxy in West Africa. In Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (Duke University), 35, 3.

Wright, Z. (2015) Living Knowledge in West African Islam: The Sufi Community of Ibrāhīm Niasse. R. Seesemann, K. Vikor (Eds.) “Islam in Africa” Series. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.

Wright, Z. (2015) Pearls from the Flood: Select Insight of Shaykh al-Islam Ibrahim Niasse(translated). Atlanta, Georgia: Faydah Books.

Wright, Z. (2014). Bury my heart in Doha: Reflections on Performing Western Academia Overseas. In Journal of General Education (University of Pittsburg), 63, 2-3.

Wright, Z, Naseem, I, Abdullahi, M (2014). Knowing Allah, Living Islam by Imam Cheikh Tidiane Ali Cisse (translated). Singapore: Light of Eminence.

Wright, Z. (2013). Islam and Decolonization in Africa: The Political Engagement of a West African Muslim Community. International Journal of African Historical Studies (Boston University Press), 46,3.

Wright, Z. (2013). Sufism in West Africa. In Soares & Seesemann (Eds.), Oxford Islamic Studies Online. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wright, Z, Abdullahi, M (2013). Islam the Religion of Peace: Selected Speeches of Cheikh Tidiane Ali Cisse (translated). Singapore: Light of Eminence.

Wright, Z. (2012). Mālikī Jurisprudence and Sufism in West Africa. In Aziz Kobaiti (Ed.), Maliki School of Jurisprudence in its Contemporary Contexts . Rabat: Mu’assisa al-ʿIlmiyya.

Wright, Z. (2012). Traditional Islam and Pedagogical Change in West Africa: The Majlis and the Madrasa in Senegal. Journal for Islamic Studies. (University of Cape Town Press), 32.

Wright, Z. (2012). The History of Islamic Identity in West Africa. Orient: German Journal for Politics, Economics and Culture of the Middle East. 53, 1.