Waleed Ziad

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Waleed Ziad

Associate Professor


Ph.D., Yale University, 2017
M.A.; M.Phil, Yale University, 2013
B.A., Yale University, 2002

Research Interests

  • Islamic studies
  • Iranian / Persianate world
  • Sufism from the early modern to contemporary periods
  • Iranian Numismatics

Professional Biography

At the intersection of social history, religious studies, and anthropology, Waleed Ziad’s research concerns the historical and philosophical foundations of Muslim revivalism and the varying revivalist responses to internal political fragmentation and colonialism in the ‘Persianate’ world (South and Central Asia and Iran). In this endeavor, he has conducted fieldwork on historical and contemporary Muslim mysticism and revivalism and material culture in over 140 towns across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.

Dr. Ziad received his PhD (with Distinction) in History at Yale University. His dissertation (entitled Traversing the Indus and the Oxus: Trans-regional Islamic Revival in the Age of Political Fragmentation and the ‘Great Game’, 1747-1880, 797 pp.was awarded the university-wide Theron Rockwell Field Prize.

A core area of his academic research is the development of Sufi networks, spanning modern day Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, China, and Russia. This has resulted in two books, Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints beyond the Oxus and Indus (Harvard, 2021; 354 pp.), and Sufi Masters of the Afghan Empire: Bibi Sahiba and Her Sacred Networks (under contract with Harvard). Hidden Caliphate was awarded the Albert Hourani Prize, the most prestigious prize in Middle Eastern Studies (through the Middle East Studies Association) as well as the American Institute for Pakistan Studies 2022 Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Bloomsbury Pakistan 2022 Book Award and the British Association for South Asian Studies 2023 Book Award. In addition, he is managing an extensive network of archivists in a two-year Modern Endangered Archives Program grant to document Sufi shrine collections and sacred spaces across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions.

Another long-standing focus of Dr. Ziad’s research is numismatics and material culture of the Indo-Iranian borderlands, with particular interest in religious transculturation, dismantling notions of boundaries between Iranian, Turkic, Indic, and Arab cultural zones. His book In the Treasure Room of the Sakra King: Votive Coinage from Gandharan Shrines (American Numismatic Society, 2022; 232 pp.) introduces a unique Hindu pilgrimage site of late antiquity centered on a cave temple in northwestern Pakistan, which existed as a monetarily independent polity from the 4th to 12th centuries. His monograph Beyond Khutba and Sikka: Sovereignty and Coinage in Sindh, 1300-1700 (under review; 200 pp.) looks at how sovereignty in the interstices of great empires was strategically articulated through coinage.

Dr. Ziad’s articles on historical and ideological trends in the Muslim world have appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, Christian Science Monitor, the Hill and major dailies internationally. He has studied Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Uzbek / Chaghatai, Sindhi, French, and Romanian.


  • RELI 181: Modern Muslim Societies
  • RELI 289: Muhammad and the Quran
  • RELI 581: Sufism
  • RELI 582: Islam in South Asia
  • RELI 583: Iran, Religion and Culture, 1500-Present

Recent Awards

  • Hidden Caliphate shortlisted for the British Association for South Asian Studies 2023 Book Award
  • Hidden Caliphate awarded Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle East Studies Association, 2022
  • Hidden Caliphate shortlisted for Bloomsbury Pakistan Book Prize, 2022
  • Schwab Academic Excellence Award from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, 2021
  • Yale Law School, Research Scholar in Law; Islamic Law and Civilization Research Fellow, Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization. 2016-2017.
  • ‘Theron Rockwell Field Prize’, 2017 (one of two highest Yale University dissertation awards across disciplines)
  • “Honorable mention for superior scholarship, originality, clarity, and the significant contribution it makes to the field of Iranian Studies” as part of Foundation for Iranian Studies’ Best Dissertation Award, 2017


Books & Chapters

  • Sufi Masters of the Afghan Empire: Bibi Sahiba and Her Sacred Networks. Under Contract with Harvard University Press (Anticipated publication date: Fall 2024)
  • Beyond Khutba and Sikka: Sovereignty and Coinage in Sindh, 1300-1700 (In Progress)
  • In the Treasure Room of the Sakra King: Votive coinage from Gandharan Shrines. American Numismatic Society. 2022. 232 pp
  • Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints Beyond the Oxus and Indus. Harvard University Press. 2021. 354 pp.
  • “Writing Imami Sunni Sufism and Female Sainthood in the Afghan Empire”. In Genealogical History in the Persianate World, edited by Jo-Ann Gross and Daniel Beben. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2023. (In progress)
  • “Hazrat Jeo Sahib Peshawari: How Durrani Peshawar Helped Revive Bukhara’s Sanctity.” In Sufism in Central Asia: New Perspectives on Sufi Traditions, 15th-21st Centuries, edited by Jo-Ann Gross and Devin DeWeese, 119-161. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2018
  • “From Yarkand to Sindh via Kabul: The Rise of Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufi Networks in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” In The Persianate World: Rethinking a Shared Sphere, edited by Abbas Amanat, 125-168. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2018.
  • “Transporting Knowledge in the Afghan Empire: A Case Study of two Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufi Manuals.” In Afghanistan’s Islam, edited by Nile Green, 105-126. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2016. [link]
  • with Aman ur Rahman, “Coinage and Monetary System.” In The Magnificent Mughals, edited by Zeenut Ziad, 281-301. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Refereed Articles

  • “Brahmi Legends on Umayyad Fulus: Interrogating Local Minting Practices in Early Medieval Gandhara (ca. 750 c.e.).” In Afghanistan (Journal), Volume 2, Issue 1 (2019): 153-165.
  • “The Sakra Sites and their Enigmatic Coins.” In Marg, Volume 70, Number 4 (June 2019): 62-69.
  • “Navigating Sindh and Central Asia through Kabul: The interconnected biographies of Makhdum Ibrahim Thattavi (d. 1810) and Bibi Sahiba Kalan (d. 1803).” Sindh Antiquities, Volume 1, no. 4 (2018): 79-85.
  • “‘Islamic’ Coins from a Hindu Temple: Reconsidering Ghaznawid Policy towards Hindu Sacred Sites through new Numismatic Evidence from Gandhara.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59 (2016): 618-659. [link]
  • “Hindustan or Mawarannahr kay Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Hazarat.” In Armaqan-i Imam Rabbani, edited by Nazim Bashir. Lahore: Imam Rabbani Publications, 2018.
  • “Sufism.” In The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism (Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedias in Social Sciences), edited by John Stone, Rutledge Dennis, and Polly Rizova. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016. [link]
  • “Empowering Pakistan’s Civil Society to Counter Violent Extremism,” Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 8(1) (2015): 188–214. (co-author)
  • “‘Disturbances at Bareilli’ in the Spring of 1816: Inter-Communal Religious Authority and Collective Action.” Journal of Persianate Studies, 7, Issue 2 (2014): 189-218. [link]
  • “The Treasures of Kashmir Smast.” Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society 187 (Spring 2006): 14-33.