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Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures

Susan Spectorsky

Associate Professor Emerita of Arabic and Islamic Studies

PhD, Columbia University

Susan Spectorsky created and taught the entire Arabic curriculum, including language and literature-in-translation courses and the historical surveys of Islamic civilization and of revival and reform in Islam in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; at the graduate level, she taught Islamic Spain. Her research specialty​ is the interpretation of the texts of Muslim jurisprudence, and the pre-modern civilization of Islam.

Research Interests

I am interested in the early history and civilization of Islam. My own research is in the development of Islamic legal theory as it is reflected in discussions among the jurists of the first three centuries of Islam. Their thinking has been an important influence in the development of Islamic society, and the working out of the law on the basis of their theories remains one of the most characteristic expressions of Islamic thought.


  • Arabic
  • Middle East Studies


In addition to my own work, I am able to contribute to the study of Islamic law as the book review editor of the Journal of Islamic Law and Society. The journal (published by E.J. Brill) is now in its fifth year and is devoted to the publication of scholarly articles on all aspects and periods of Islamic legal theory and practice. Books chosen for review reflect a broad range of research interests and the reviewers are scholars both Muslim and non-Muslim from all over the world.

Chapters on Marriage and Divorce: Responses of Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Rahwayh - Translation with Introduction & Notes by Susan A. Spectorsky.


 Office Information

Yunzhong Shu
Department Chair
Location: Queens Hall, Room 215
Phone: 718-997-5570
Fax: 718-997-5577

Faculty and Staff Information


Language Placement

Upcoming Language Placement Exams

Fall 2018

Arabic: Please ​contact Professor R. Shareah Taleghani, the Arabic language coordinator, ​at for questions regarding screening and placement.

Chinese: Please contact Professor Xiao Li, the Chinese language coordinator, at

Ancient Greek: Please contact Professor Nicholas Cross, the Ancient Greek language coordinator, at

Hebrew: Please contact Professor Deborah Gruber, the Hebrew language coordinator, at

Japanese: Please contact Professor Mari Fujimoto, the Japanese language coordinator, at

Korean: Please contact Professor Seongyeon Ko, the Korean language coordinator, at

Latin: Please contact Professor Nicholas Cross, the Latin language coordinator, at

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