Marjan Asi

PhD Cohort 2022

HEI: University of Edinburgh

Funding: AHRC DTP

Project TitleObeying the (Unjust) Ruler: Tracing a political ideology in the Hadith corpus

Supervisor: Dr Andreas GorkeSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

What was your research about?

My research centers on the idea found in Muslim scholarship that the ruler must be obeyed, even if they are unjust. I explored this idea through the avenue of Hadiths—Prophetic narrations that support this view. Through a relatively modern methodology, I was able to trace these hadiths back to a particular place and time in the early Muslim world, shedding light on the popularization of this political ideology.

Why did you choose to undertake a PhD?

I was previously working as a journalist covering the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ when I encountered this view to obey the ruler no matter what. I was surprised to find it so normalized in certain discourses. I was even more surprised to find there is little information about the origins of this view and felt it required further investigation.

Which aspects of your PhD did you enjoy the most?

It was quite exciting to see the patterns emerge from the analysis. I enjoyed much of the analysis itself but finding the research results giving shape to some of the early history (which is such a murky period) was very satisfying.

How has your PhD helped you to decide on a career path?

I have always been inclined toward academia but carrying out this PhD (during which I gave birth to all three of my children) and enjoying it has made it clear to me that this is the field I would like to continue in.

And now?

Currently, my main project (after motherhood) is turning my doctoral thesis into a book. I’ve also submitted a book chapter which is currently being peer-reviewed. I am also preparing to teach a seminar here in Andalucia in the coming months in hadith studies.

One piece of advice you would give an incoming PhD researcher?

Know why it is you are embarking upon this journey and find what is truly exciting about it that will propel you to continue and successfully finish it.

Where can people find you?

SGSAH; SGSAH ResearchEmail: