Abdulaziz Sachedina was born into an Indian Muslim family in Tanzania in 1942. He received BA degrees from Aligarh Muslim University (in Islamic Studies) in Aligarh, India, and Ferdowsi University (in Persian language and literature) in Mashhad, Iran. In addition, he studied Islamic jurisprudence at the Madrasa of Ayatollah Milani in Mashhad. He received the MA and PhD degrees in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto. His doctoral dissertation was entitled The Doctine of Mahdiism in Imami Shi’ism: A Study of Doctrinal Evolution in the 9th and 10th Centuries.
While Dr. Sachedina has taught at the University of Virginia since 1976, he has held a variety of visiting professorships at Wilfrid Laurier, Waterloo and McGill universities (all in Canada), Haverford College (Pennsylvania), the University of Jordan (Amman), and Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (Iran). Professor Sachedina has lectured widely in the Middle East, East Africa, India, Pakistan and Europe. He is a core member of the Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism Project in the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Preventive Diplomacy Program and a key contributor to the program’s efforts to link religion to universal human needs and values in the service of peace-building. He serves on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. Currently, Dr. Sachedina is the Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.
In 1998, Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf, Iraq, issued a fatwa against Professor Sachedina, prohibiting him from presenting any lectures or teaching on the subject of Islam. Though he was born Shi’a, Dr. Sachedina has also served as an imam in the Sunni mosque in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Books written by Professor Sachedina include: Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism, The Prolegomena to the Qur’an, The Just Ruler in Twelver Shiism: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence, Human Rights and the Conflict of Cultures: Western and Islamic Perspectives on Religious Liberty (co-authored with David Little and J. E. Kelsay), and Islamic Messianism: The Idea of the Mahdi in Twelver Shiism. Among his many articles are: ‘Is There a Tradition of Nonviolence and Pacifism in Islam?’ in Nonviolence and Pacifism in Conflict Resolution; ‘Guidance or Governance? A Muslim Conception of “Two Cities”’ in The George Washington Law Review; and ‘Political Islam and the Hegemony of Globalization: A Response to Peter Berger’ in The Hedgehog Review.
Professor Sachedina has served on the advisory board of the Center for Bioethics of the University of Virginia, on the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Ethics, and as director of the Organization for Islamic Learning. He was recently elected honorary professor at the Shahid Behishti Medical University, Tehran, Iran. Among his numerous awards are the Z Society Award for Outstanding Professor, the Government of Iran Cultural Scholarship and the Sesquicentennial Fellowship for research in the United Kingdom.