The beginning of worship is silence. Then follows the pursuit of knowledge, then acting upon that knowledge, then recording it, and finally spreading it.

Sufyan al-Thawri

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges

Bilal Orfali

Sheikh Zayed Professor for Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut

Bilal Orfali, Ph.D. (2009), Yale University, is Sheikh Zayed Chair for Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut. He previously held the M.S. Sofia Chair in Arabic Studies at the Ohio State University. He specializes in Arabic literature, Sufism, and Qurʾānic Studies. He co-edits al-Abhath Journal and Brill’s series Texts and Studies on the Qur’an and Handbooks on Islamic Mysticism.

The Anthologist’s Art: Abū Manṣur al-Thaʿālibī and His Yātimat al-dahr. Leiden: Brill, 2016.


Khāṣṣ al-Khāṣṣ fī-l-amthāl li-Abī Manṣūr al-Thaʿālibī. Edited by Ramzi Baalbaki and Bilal Orfali. Beirut: Orient-Institut (Bibliotheca Islamica), 2020.


The relationship between Sufism or Islamic mysticism and ethics is largely untilled land. Mysticism and Ethics in Islam attempts to survey this fertile area of investigation by attempting to come to a clearer idea of precisely what is meant by the terms “ethics” and “mysticism” vis-à-vis Islam and vis-à-vis each other.


Through investigations of manuscripts, this book explores important aspects of the life of Badîʿ al-Zamân al-Hamadhânî’s Maqâmât. The broad concerns of the book are divided into three sections: authorship, texts, and contexts. Each chapter in this volume investigates hitherto unstudied textual materials related to al-Hamadhânî’s Maqâmât that adds to our understanding of the text, its history, and the literary culture that created it.


Approaches to the Study of Pre-Modern Arabic Anthologies Editors: Bilal Orfali and Nadia Maria El Cheikh Literary anthology is a general category of adab that encompasses a range of compilations which has enjoyed tremendous popularity in Arabic literature, probably like no other literature of the world. The aim of this volume is to raise and discuss questions about the different approaches to the study of pre-modern Arabic anthologies from the perspectives of philology, religion, history, geography, and literature. Contributors: Lyall Armstrong, Carl Davila, Matthew L. Keegan, Boutheina Khaldi, Enass Khansa, Jeremy Kurzyniec, David Larsen, Nathaniel A. Miller, Suleiman A. Mourad, Hans-Peter Pökel, Isabel Toral

Feb 1, 2023

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: Openness to other faiths enriches Muslim identity, says UAE diplomat

Dubai: The openness to other faiths enriches Muslim identity, a top UAE diplomat and author said at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (Emirates LitFest) in Dubai on Saturday. Omar Saif Ghobash, Assistant Minister for Culture and Public Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the UAE Ambassador to the Holy See, was speaking at a session titled ‘Past, Present and Future of Islam’ along with Malaysian journalist, activist and author Marina Mahathir and Iranian-American religious scholar, author and Emmy and Peabody-nominated producer Reza Aslan..

Feb 1, 2023

Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre Forms Its 2023 Scientific Committee

The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre’s 10-person scientific committee aims to present ideas that will ‘strengthen the presence of the Arabic language.’.

Sep 20, 2021

UAE Embassy in Beirut holds seminar on Human Fraternity Document

BEIRUT, 20th September, 2021 (WAM) -- The UAE Embassy in Beirut has held a virtual seminar entitled, "The Importance of the Human Fraternity Document to Research and Academic Work." The seminar was attended by Prof. Roula Talhouk, Director of the Islamic Christian Research and Documentation Centre (CEDIFR), at the Saint Joseph University of Beirut; and Dr. Bilal Orfali, Sheikh Zayed Professor for Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut. During the event, they discussed the importance of the document, as well as its role in promoting openness and tolerance resulting from the UAE’s related efforts. In its statement, the embassy stressed that the UAE is keen to promote the principles of the document through education, as well as to launch many ambitious initiatives in this area, noting its approach consists of spreading the values of tolerance and international peace. Talhouk discussed several planned initiatives and projects that aim to promote the values and principles of the document and integrate them into all school and university curricula. Orfali explained the role of the Sheikh Zayed Chair in promoting the document, noting that the efforts of Arab and Muslim scholars are crucial as educational systems generate and spread ideas..