Dr. Rahimjon Abdugafurov

Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University School of Law

On the Path to Knowledge

My life’s journey growing up in the cotton plantations of the Soviet Empire, coming to study in the USA, and engaging in scholarly works in Islamic Studies, make me exhilarated when I think about my research, teaching and community service. As a human being, I find myself responsible to contribute to the good of the humanity and live a responsible life in the treatment of non-humans. My ultimate scholarly goal in Islamic Studies is to contribute to better understanding of Muslim relations with non-Muslims through Islamic Humanism; whether such contribution is related to Religious Humanism in Islam, Islamic Law, or Jewish Studies. I place four humanistic ideals – human centrality, human equality, human freedom and human potential at the center of my attention in my teaching, research and community services.

Initiatives, Projects and Publications

American Institute for Inter-religious Studies

The American Institute for Inter-religious Studies has two functions: (1) identifying theological views from different religions and make them easily digestible to public in the form of video clips and other media formats and to contribute to better understanding among believers of different religions and promote harmonious existence; (2) to combine theory and action – this plan of the Institute is to find ways to tackle one of the world’s most severe environmental crises – the Aral Sea, and work together with leaders and practitioners of different religions to plant 100000 (One Million) trees around the Aral Sea region and alleviate living conditions in the region. This latter action is called TRUE TO TREES. Planned for five years, the first phase of the project is to conduct research work on what different religions in Central Asia and beyond have to offer for preserving the environment. This project will be followed by planning and executions, and maintenance for the rest of the four years. Please contact me at ruabdugafurov@gmail.com if you are interested in any of the projects mentioned above.

The PEER (Political Economy of Education Research) Network Fellowship

As an Associate of the Centre for International Education at the University of Sussex, I will participate in theoretical and conceptual workshops to prepare and apply for funding on studying women’s higher education, especially their participation in applied sciences in the Ferghana region of Uzbekistan. This research will make policy analyses and suggestions to improve women’s acquisition of higher education under patriarchal, and religious pressures and traditions. My research will also examine the ways non-Muslims as well as non-Uzbeks are treated in terms of access to higher education. The youth emerging from orphanages as well as the disabled and vulnerable populations will also be included in this study. For further information about the PEER Network, Please visit: https://peernetworkgcrf.org/about-us/project-overview/

Publications/Paper Presentations/Book Reviews

“Islamic Discourses and Women’s Participation in Higher Education in Uzbekistan,” funded by the PEER Network (upcoming December 2022).

Paper presentation, “Ta’wilot al-Qur’on and Exegetical Traditions in Uzbekistan,” at Freiburg University, Germany, October, 2022.

Book review, Sharia in the Russian Empire: The Reach and Limits of Islamic Law in Central Eurasia, 1550-1900. Edited by Paolo Sartori and Danielle Ross (Cambridge University Press, 2020) Journal of Law and Religion, October, 2021.

Book review, James Pickett, Polymaths of Islam: Power and Networks of Knowledge in Central Asia, Cornell University Press, published in the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs, 2020.

“Embracing Humanity in the Cases of Central Asian Sufi Chivalry,” Islam and  Humanitarianism: Interdisciplinary Inquiries on Islamic Forms of Aid, The Maydan’s Islamic Thought Publication, George Mason University

“Soteriology in ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī’s Islamic Humanism,” Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, Indiana University Press, Vol. 4, No. 2 (November, 2019), 114-121. Essay link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.2979/jims.4.2.10.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2TEY6XS-eVtRNB9IUuqlDLNLdOH0rZG2oRl4R41vO2L3GGbRrMVQHKYek&seq=1

With Donohon Abdugafurova, and Beverly Moran “Islamic Feminism and Invisible Work: The Case of Disappearing Daughter in-Law,” The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, XIX. 1 (2017): 43-60. https://www.law.georgetown.edu/gender-journal/in-print/volume-19-issue-1-fall-2017/islamic-feminism-and-invisible-work-the-case-of-the-disappearing-daughter-in-law/

Four entries on Christianity in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, in the Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, Ed. by Mark A. Lamport, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. https://general.ebooks.faithlife.com/product/153936/encyclopedia-of-christianity-in-the-global-south

With Beverly Moran, “Islamic Law and Elder Care in the Central Asian Edgen System,” Journal of Law and Religion 31, no. 2, (2016): 197-211. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-law-and-religion/article/div-classtitleislamic-law-and-elder-care-in-the-central-asian-span-classitalicedgenspan-systemdiv/2B482E4D8058406FA40FB5292FC1ED66

“Religiosity beyond Cities: Kolkhozes as Bases for Muslim Networks and Cultures,” for Migration, Destalinisation, Privatization and the New Muslim Congregations in the Soviet Realm (1950s-200s) ed. by Stéphane Dudoignon and Christian Noack (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2014), Central Asian Affairs 3 (2016) 287-300.

With Beverly Moran, “Are Muslims Obligated to Engage in Holy War?” FIU Religion and Law Review 11, no. 3, (2015): 3-17. https://ecollections.law.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1274&context=lawreview


I teach courses on Islam Studies, including Sufism, Islamic Law, the Qur’ān, Ḥadīth, Muslim Relations with non-Muslims, the Middle East, Central Asia, Islam in the Former Soviet countries, China and North America.


Introduction to the Study of Islam;

Islamic Mystical Theology;

Islamic Law;

Afghanistan and Central Asia;

Scholarly Integrity and Research Excellence;

History and Practice of Christian-Muslim Relations;

Islam in the West;

Arabic language.

Book Projects

I am working on two book projects at the moment: (1) on Religious Humanism in Islam, and (2) Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī’s theology. The first book is based on my dissertation, and I argue for the inclusion of Islamic Humanism as a type of Religious Humanism like in the case of Christian Humanism. I offer the doctrine of the fourteenth century Muslim thinker, ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī on the promotion of human centrality, human equality, human freedom and human potential. The second book examines the theological and epistemological views of one of the two well-known Muslim theologians – Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī (d. 924 CE) and his views on human intellect and knowing the divine. I will also discuss his views about women and non-Muslims as I conduct my research in his intellectual heritage.

Documentary Film

In 2018, with the support of Vanderbilt and Emory universities, Professor Beverly Moran and I produced a documentary film dedicated to the preservation of Bukharan Jewish Culture. The film raises the question with regards to the preservation of Bukharan Jewish culture, and Bukhori – a language spoken by this Central Asian Jews. After the collapse of the Soviet Regime, most of Bukharan Jews left Central Asia and this created the question on preserving Bukharan Jewish Culture – a culture that has existed in the region for about two thousand years. My colleagues and I continue to work in this area as well as I receive my Graduate Certificate in Jewish Studies from Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at beloved Emory University.


“Islamic Humanism, and Scholarship on Islam in Uzbekistan,” a video interview with the Uzbek Service of the Voice of America, 2017, https://www.amerikaovozi.com/a/washington-teahouse-rahimjon-donoxon/4021999.html

“Uzbekistani Scholar: Let us Learn Humanism from Mashrab” Interview given to the Voice of America’s Uzbek Service, 12/02/2014, http://www.amerikaovozi.com/content/mashrab-islam-youth-central-asia/2539586.html