Waleed Ziad

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Waleed Ziad

Assistant Professor
Dr. Ali Jarrahi Fellow in Persian Studies


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, my 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, I have conducted fieldwork on historical and contemporary Muslim revivalism, reform, and mysticism in over 90 towns across Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan.

My current book project, based on my dissertation, examines the development of trans-regional Islamic revivalist networks in the 18th to early 20th centuries, spanning modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, China, and Russia. The subjects of my study, the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi (or Mujaddidi) revivalist Sufis were arguably the most extensive Muslim scholastic-religious networks until the 20th century. The Mujaddidis impacted the region’s primary Muslim reformist movements and articulated some of the most extensive and intensive social responses to the decline of Muslim political power and the ascendance of European colonialism.

My research contributes to transnational history by re-conceptualizing the geographic contours of the Persianate world through the lens of religious and scholastic networks. I emphasize the role of Peshawar, Kabul, and Bukhara as fulcrums of these trans-Asiatic networks, problematizing Great Game narratives that characterize these regions as fragmented, underdeveloped spaces. My work also explores the development of new models of female scholarly-saintly authority, as several of the Sufi networks at Qandahar, Kabul, and elsewhere were led by women.

In my numismatic work, I specifically explore cross-cultural encounters and questions of sovereignty and religion in the Iranian world. I am currently completing a monograph on the Kashmir Smast, an early medieval pilgrimage site centered on a cave temple in the Sakra mountain range in the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier regions, which existed as a monetarily independent polity from the 4th-11th centuries.

My 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.


  • RELI 583: Religion and Culture in Iran, 1500-Present
  • RELI 181: Modern Muslim Civilization
  • RELI 582: Islam in South Asia

Recent Awards

  • 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

  • Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints Beyond the Oxus and Indus, 1747-1880. Under contract with Harvard University Press. 250 pp. (Anticipated publication date: Fall 2020)
  • In the Treasure Room of the Sakra King: The Native Copper Coinage of Northern Gandhara (ca. 550-1100). American Numismatic Society. 250 pp. (Anticipated publication date: 2020)
  • “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.