Jonathan Brown

Jonathan Brown is the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and he is the Associate Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. He is also a scholar at the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. He received his BA in History from Georgetown University in 2000 and his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 2006. Dr. Brown has studied and conducted research in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Iran.


16 October 2017
Ep. 20: Texts & Cultural Context - Dr. Jonathan Brown


12 May 2019

How Should Rationalists Deal With Dogmatism?: The Case of the Birmingham Quran Pages

The Quran does not bear traces of any significant alteration over time, and the latest studies by Western scholars have made it clear that, barring some new, astounding discovery, the Muslim version of how and when the Quran was written should be accepted

14 November 2017

The Presumption of Innocence When Too Many Victims Go Unheard

Recent reports of sexual misconduct and assault have intensified an already profound ethical, legal and media crisis in US society, one in which Muslims now also find themselves. Like all great dilemmas, it is one in which we are faced with what seem to be two equally valid but seemingly irreconcilable concerns. On the one hand, we have the fundamental premise of the presumption of innocence and the essential guarantee of due process. On the other, we have the demonstrable failings of the very system that provides that due process.

17 July 2017

The Call-Out Culture: An Islamic Perspective

At the level of society overall, Calling-Out has proven extremely valuable, but there is an epiphenomenon of Call-Out Culture which is the problem of accurately verifying what is being called-out. The rigorous verification of claims made or information passed along has always been a hallmark of the Islamic tradition.

13 January 2017

"Moderate Islam" & Muslim American Leadership: Reflections Before the Deluge

Is it just me, or is being a Muslim in the US a rollercoaster ride? There’s so much to discuss! Top on the list is, of course, the imminent Trump administration. Like many in this country, since November 9th I’ve alternated between stupefaction, acute anxiety and invigoration for the… interactions (?) to come. This is an ideal moment to reflect on the condition of the American Muslim community as news reports of cabinet picks and policy announcements regularly herald the challenges, long feared just beyond the horizon, that are now coming into view.

3 November 2016

Guidelines For Muslim Political Engagement

In a recent discussion with some American Muslim scholars, politics was on everyone’s mind. This is no surprise, as the pressures on the American Muslim community have never been greater, from self-admitted enemies calling for our expulsion to potential allies offering aid. Knowing how to position oneself in regards to these forces is difficult to say the least. And knowing how to deal with how other Muslims position themselves is no easier. Muslims in the West need more sophisticated instruments to help them navigate questions of political engagement and disagreement within our community. In an effort to help improve this paucity, here are three maxims to live by.

3 October 2016

Incest & Widow Burning: How Much Can Muslims Stomach?

Can the Shariah facilitate acts which are considered reprehensible? The affirmation of a party’s free choice to engage in a wrong does not entail approving of it. It only recognizes something that the Quran, the Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ and Muslim scholars since early times have all affirmed: that human societies are too diverse for us to enforce even the most rightly guided systems of law or morality on all.

29 August 2016

The Greatest Crime

What allows people to kill the unarmed, children, or their friends? What convinces them they have to kill and perhaps even fills their veins with hatred is what is so commonly forgotten: dehumanization, the process by which we are convinced that another human is, in fact, not human at all.

27 July 2016

The Qur'an, the Jews and Ezra as the Son of God

Why does the Quran tell us that the Jews claim Ezra (ʿUzayr) is the son of God, when Jews do not make this claim or anything approaching it? This is not a question that arose just recently during an interfaith panel. It’s not a new question at all. How should we understand this?

18 June 2016

The Shariah, Homosexuality & Safeguarding Each Other’s Rights in a Pluralist Society

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, however, Islam’s disapproval of same-sex acts has come under renewed scrutiny. Some critics have argued that any disapproval of homosexuality is homophobic, and that any indulgence of homophobia lays fertile ground for violence against the LGBTQ community

9 May 2016

The Moral Hollowness and Futility of Islamophobia

Having your community placed under unrelenting suspicion for years on end, causes stress. I have to say that just recognizing that made me feel better. Thinking back on the trajectory of Islamophobia in the US, my mind often settles on two features that both depress me and cheer me up. We should try our best to ignore Islamophobes and work to promote the safety of fellow Americans and to perfect any shortcomings in how we—not Islamophobes—understand our religion.