Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Department of History and Archaeology, AUB
Nadia Maria El Cheikh
  • Director of the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, AUB, 2007 - 2009                                                        
  • Ph.D. degree in History and Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, 1992                                                    
  •  Professor, Department of History and Archaeology, AUB, since October 1, 2006                                                 
  •  Associate Professor, Department of History and Archaeology, AUB, 2000-2006
  • Director of the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, AUB, 2002-2004
  • Assistant Professor, Department of History and Archaeology, AUB, 1992-3 and 1994-2000.
  • Research Officer, Arab Women Center for Training and Research (Tunis)& International Labor Office (Geneva), 1993-4
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Amherst College, 1991-2
  • Teaching Fellow, Harvard University, 1988-1991

Research Interests

  • Over the years, my work has focused on the history of Arab Byzantine relations. In 2004, my book entitled Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs, was published by Harvard Middle East Monographs. In this book I examine the Arabic-Islamic view of Byzantium as it evolved through centuries of warfare, contact, and exchanges. Including previously inaccessible material on the Arabic textual tradition on Byzantium, this investigation shows the significance of Byzantium to the Arab Muslim establishment and their appreciation of various facets of Byzantine culture and civilization. This work fills an important gap in studies on various aspects of East-West interaction and perceptions in medieval times. My other recent contribution in this area is an article entitled ³Byzantine Leaders in Arabic-Muslim Texts,² Elites Old and New in the Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East, eds. John Haldon and Lawrence Conrad, Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam series, number 1, vol. VI (Princeton: Darwin Press, 2004).
  • The second main focus of my research investigates aspects of gender history in the Abbasid period. In ³In Search for the Ideal Spouse,² published in the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 45 (2002), pp. 179-196, I discuss the material related to marriage in two adab anthologies, namely the ŒUyun al-akhbar of Ibn Qutayba and al-ŒIqd al-farid of Ibn ŒAbd Rabbih.
    My work on gender in the Abbasid period provoked me to review historical evidence of importance in understanding the role that Shaghab, the mother of the Abbasid caliph al-Muqtadir (295-320/908-932), played in state affairs.
    In ³Gender and Politics: The Harem of al-Muqtadir,² published in Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900, eds. L. Brubaker and Julia Smith (Cambridge University Press, 2004), the main discussion deals with the specific influence of Umm al-Muqtadir as well as with the broad topic of women¹s participation in the public sphere.
  • The investigation of Umm al-Muqtadir has branched me into a new project which seeks to explore the workings of the Abbasid court through an investigation of the reign of al-Muqtadir. In ³The Court of al-Muqtadir:
    Its Space and its Occupants,² forthcoming in the Proceedings of the Seventh Conference of the School of ŒAbbasid Studies, I problematize the term Œcourt¹, conceiving of the Abbasid court as a combination of location where the government is conducted, and a community of people who exercise authority and manage government. The second important set of questions concerning the court of al-Muqtadir involves the particular functions, roles and influence of individuals at the court, both administrative officials and members of the harem. By studying the roles, the position and the power attained by these individuals, this investigation will be contributing to our knowledge of the functioning of particular court institutions in the early tenth century.

Courses Taught at AUB

  • The Abbasid Court, undergraduate.
  • Women and Gender in Classical Islamic Societies, undergraduate.
  • Byzantine Empire and Civilization I and II,  undergraduate.
  • Islamic History: Origins and Empire, 600-750, undergraduate.
  • The Rise and Fall of the Abbasids, undergraduate.
  • Social and Intellectual History of the Arabs I and II Graduate.
  • Arab Historians I and II

Recent Publications


2004 Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs , Cambridge MA: Harvard Middle Eastern Monographs.

Edited Volume

2011 Co-editor of Byzantium in Early Islamic Syria (Beirut). 

2002 Co-editor of al-Nisa' al-arabiyyat fi al-ishrinat: hudur wa hawiyya (Beirut)

Recently Published Articles

  • 2013 “An Abbasid Caliphal Family,” Approaches to the Byzantine Family, ed. Leslie Brubaker and Shaun Tougher (Surrey: Ashgate), 327-344.
  • 2012  “The Abbasid and Byzantine Courts,” The Oxford History of Historical Writing, vol.2, 600-1400, ed. Sarah Foot and Chase Robinson (London: Oxford University Press), 517-538. 
  • 2012 “Ibn Khaldun, a Late Historian of Byzantium,” Knotenpunkt  Byzanz: Wissensformen und kulturelle Wechselbeziehungen, ed. Andreas Speer and Philip Steinkruger (Miscellanea Mediaevalia no. 36) (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter), 534-548. 
  • 2011 “The Conversion of Constantine the Great: A Reading of Arabic-Muslim Sources,” Journal of Turkish Studies 36(2011), 69-83, In Memoria Angeliki Laiou, ed. Cemal Kafadar and Nevra Necipoglu. 
  • 2011 “The Tenth Century Byzantine Revival: The Muslim Literary Reaction,” Byzantium in Early Islamic Syria, ed. Nadia Maria El Cheikh and Shaun O Sullivan (Beirut), 147-160.
  • 2011 “To Be a Prince in the Fourth/Tenth Century Abbasid Court,” Royal Courts in Dynastic States and Empires: A Global Perspective, ed. Jeroen Duindam, Tulay Artan, and Metin Kunt (Leiden: Brill), 199-216.
  • 2011  “Court and Courtiers: A Preliminary Investigation of Abbasid Terminology,” Court Cultures in the Muslim World: Seventh to Nineteenth Centuries, ed. Albrecht Fuess and Jan-Peter Hartung (New York: Routledge), 80-90.
  • 2010 “The Gendering of ‘Death’ in Kitab al-‘Iqd al-Farid”, al-Qantara vol.31,  411-436.
  • 2010   “The Court of al-Muqtadir: Its Space and Its Occupants,” Abbasid Studies II: Occasional Paper of the School of ‘Abbasid Studies, Leuven 28 June-1 July, 2004, ed. John Nawas (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, no. 177).
  • 2010 “Caliphal Harems, Household Harems:  Baghdad in the Fourth/Tenth Century,” Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces, ed. Marilyn Booth (Durham and London: Duke University Press).
  • 2010 “Ammuriyya,” and “Byzantium” Encyclopedia of Islam, third edition        (Brill, Leiden).       
  • 2007  “Observations on Women's Education in Medieval Islamic Societies,” Enfance et  jeunesse dans le monde musulman, eds., Francois Georgeon and Klaus Kreiser (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose), pp.57-72.
  • 2007 “Adab Literature: 9th to 13th Century,” Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, vol. 6.
  • 2007 “Amorium,” Encyclopedia of Islam, third edition (Leiden: Brill).
  • 2005 “Servants at the Gate: Eunuchs at the Court of al-Muqtadir,” The Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient 48.pp. 234-252. 
  • 2005 “Revisiting the Abbasid Harems,” Journal of Middle East Women's Studies, 1.pp. 1-19.  
  • 2004 "Byzantine Leaders in Arabic-Muslim Texts," Elites Old and New in the Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East, eds. John Haldon and Lawrence I. Conrad (Princeton: Darwin Press, Inc.), pp. 109-131.
  • 2004 "Gender and Politics: The Harem of al-Muqtadir," in Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900, eds. L. Brubaker and Julia Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 147-161.
  • 2004 "Empires: Byzantine," Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, .,vol. 1, pp. 210-211.
  • 2003 "Mourning and the Role of the Na'iha," Identidades Marginales. Edited by Cristina de la Puente (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas), pp. 395-412.
  • 2002 "In Search for the Ideal Spouse," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 45, pp. 179-196. Translated into Arabic: "Bahthan an sharik al-hayat al-mithali," Tiba 3(2003), 77-99.


Contact us Jobs Disclaimer Copyright Non-Discrimination/Title IX