Mohammad Sagha

Teaching Fellow
PhD, University of Chicago, 2021

Mohammad Sagha (PhD, University of Chicago) is a postdoctoral Division of Humanities Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago where he teaches courses on Islam, history, global reading cultures, and politics. He is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture (CSRPC) at the University of Chicago and an Associate at the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Sagha’s research focuses on the origins of Muslim sectarian identity and political institutions, the historical development of Islamic political theology, social network analysis and digital humanities, and the dynamics between imperial organization and transregional rebellions in early Islam. His interests also include the influence of Late Antique Sasanian-era religious currents on later Muslim sectarian identity and intellectual thought. 

His current book manuscript, “Empire and Rebellion: Occultation, Underground Networks, and Shiʿi Confessional Ambiguity in Early Islam,” examines underground revolutionary politics, sectarian emergence, debates on orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and Islamic political institutions from before the Abbasid Revolution until the capture of Baghdad by the northern Iranian Buyid dynasty and the high period of the “Shiʿi Centuries.” His research contributes to the field of Islamic studies as well as global history by providing the first historical survey work of early Shiʿi movements in a comparative revolutionary and socio-political context and advancing new theories on sectarian-imperial co-genesis that significantly impacted transnational societies across the Near East and Central Asia in profound and long-term ways.

He received his PhD in Islamic History and Civilization from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 2021. He was also a Co-Director of the Shiʿi Studies Group and received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago and wrote his thesis on the sociological networks of the emerging Twelver Shiʿi community at the time of the occultation of the Twelfth Imam. He was additionally a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at Harvard University, working under the supervision of Professor Roy Mottahedeh on early Islamic dynastic military politics. His work has been supported by awards and fellowships from the University of Chicago, the Foreign Language Acquisition Fellowship (FLAS), the Islamic Scholarship Foundation, and the Hub Foundation. 

Working Papers:

Shiʿa Islam and Politics in the Modern Middle East: State of the Field (submitted)

Narratives, Networks and the Pro-Occultation Faction of the Early Shiʿa: Applying Social Network Analysis in the Minor Occultation Period (260/874 – 329/941) (in preparation)

Rebellion and Resistance in Early Islam: A Quantitative Study of Revolts and Sectarian Identity in the Early Islamic Period (in preparation)

Persianate Revivalism in the South Caspian: the Buyids, Ziyarids, Musafirids and the Daylami Intermezzo ca. 250/864 – 545/1062 (in preparation)