Celene Ibrahim, GSAS PhD '18
I arrived at Brandeis in 2012 as the University's first and only candidate in a new doctoral track in Arabic and Islamic Civilizations. The breadth of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies was intellectually stimulating, and faculty in the Department were extremely devoted to mentoring. They offered detailed feedback on my work, helped me find outlets for publishing, and demonstrated teaching teaching tactics that I use to this day. The program also had strong financial support and plentiful opportunities for teaching fellowships. I earned a master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies en route to the doctoral degree. The Mellon Foundation Dissertation Year Fellowship offered an additional year of full funding and an interdisciplinary cohort of other Brandies doctoral candidates that helped me focus my writing and finish the program in a timely manner.
Even after I graduated, my doctoral advisor supported me in turning my dissertation into my first monograph. Thanks to all of this excellent mentorship, I received multiple offers from premiere university presses for my manuscript just a few months after graduating. The book based on my doctoral work, entitled Women and Gender in the Qur'an, went on to win the annual book prize from the Association of Middle Eastern Women's Studies in 2021.
My advice for current students is to pursue and enjoy the opportunities that Brandeis offers. Brandeis provided a phenomenal program for Arabic studies, and when I graduated, I missed the Arabic classes so much that I wanted to enroll all over again to attend more classes. Choosing a dissertation topic that was a sincere intellectual passion and that had a broad audience helped me to sustain the process of writing and revising. The academic job market is unforgiving, and so I would recommend that doctoral candidates explore a range of settings in which they could find a satisfying career. In my case, I thankfully discovered the world of independent schools when looking at educational settings for my daughter. I currently enjoy brilliant students, dedicated colleagues across disciplines, a tight knit community, research funding, tuition remission, and a campus residence and complimentary dining. I have plentiful opportunities to publish without the pressure and politics of a tenure-track position. I choose what to write and don't concern myself with pleasing a potential tenure review committee.
My next book, due out soon, is a short manuscript on the concept of monotheism in Islam that is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. I've also edited a collection for interfaith audiences entitled One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets. I'm currently working on a book tentatively titled Islam and Feminist Thought and am working on an article on depictions of masculinity in the Qur'an. In my current role in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Groton School, I teach courses on applied ethics, women's studies, classical Arabic and the Qur'an, and more. I also serve as the School's Muslim Chaplain.