Professional Biography of Dr. Alan A. Godlas

Dr. Godlas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia. He is the director of the UGA Virtual Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Islamic World (VCISIW) and is the Co-Director of the UGA Arabic major and the UGA-Morocco Maymester program. At UGA he teaches Islamic Studies and Arabic courses (and sometimes Persian and Ottoman Turkish) as well as a survey course on the world's religions. As the supervisor of UGA's Fulbright funded Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) program, he supervises FLTAs who teach languages such as Arabic, Persian/Dari, Turkish, Urdu, Bengali, and Indonesian. For more info on the FLTA program, click on the link fltainfo.html. Dr. Godlas is a member of the the UGA Center for Asian Studies, and the African Studies Program.

A native-born Californian, Dr. Godlas received his M.A. (1983) and Ph.D. (1991) in Near Eastern Studies (specializing in Islamic Studies) from the University of California at Berkeley, under the supervision of Prof. Hamid Algar. Dr. Godlas, however, began his career in higher education by studying for and receiving his B.S. in Ecological Psychology from the University of California at Davis in 1972. He then trained in Gestalt Therapy at the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco from 1973-74 and studied at the SAT Institute under the direction of Dr. Claudio Naranjo in 1974. Subsequently, Dr. Godlas traveled to the Islamic world, studying Persian literature at the University of Tehran from 1974-1976, advanced Arabic as a fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) in Cairo in 1983-84, and advanced Turkish as a fellow at Bosporus University in 1984. He has taught at the University of Georgia since 1991.

Dr. Godlas has conducted extensive research in manuscript libraries in Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey. His areas of research include Qur'anic commentary (tafsir), hadith, Islamic mysticism (also known as Sufism) and consciousness transformation, and the relationship between Islam, modernism, and postmodernism. The Islamic texts that he studies are primarily in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. A final area of his research is the development of a disciplinary framework for the study of religion. 

His professional experience includes being on the editorial boards of both Fons Vitae press and the journal, Sufi Illuminations, and being a member of the steering committee of the Study of Mysticism and Study of Islam sections of the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Godlas was granted a National Endowment to the Humanities fellowship for the study of mysticism with Professor Huston Smith in 1993. In the Summer of 1997, Dr. Godlas received a Fulbright-Hayes fellowship for study in Uzbekistan (link fixed 20 August, 2005).  He received ijazet from Ibrahim Jan Naqshbandi (Ibrahim Hazret--qaddasallahu sirrahu), near Kokand (Uzbekistan) in May of 1999. He also began teaching in the Shadhili tariqa with the permission of Sidi Shaykh Muhammad al-Jamal in 2004. Dr. Godlas is most well-known for his Islamic Studies and Sufism websites, which are the foremost comprehensive academic websites for the study of Islam and Sufism on the entire worldwide web. In April 2002 his Islamic Studies website was one of five nominees for a Webby award in the category of spirituality. (The Webbys are the equivalent of the Oscars for websites.) Among his competitors was the website of the Vatican!

Dr Godlas was among the five well-known figures chosen by Beliefnet, the leading commercial interfaith website, to be interviewed about the best picture nominations for the Oscars in 2002. See Dr. Godlas' comments about Moulin Rouge in the interview. The link to the article on the Beliefnet site is here, but in order to clarify misunderstandings that can arise because of confusion between the the comments of the interviewer and those of Dr. Godlas, we have put the entire interview on one page at the first link, calling attention to the difference between the interviewer's remarks and those of Dr. Godlas.

In January 2003, Dr. Godlas was chosen by the US Department of State and the Emir of Kano to give two presentations on Islam for a bilateral conference in Kano (Northern Nigeria) on US and Northern Nigerian relations.

Dr. Godlas has delivered numerous lectures in the US on understanding Islam and related issues for organizations such as CNN, The Parliament of the European Union in Brussels, Brown University, the UGA Institute for Continuing Judicial Education, College of Charleston, Georgia Southwestern State University, the Graduate Theological Union/Zaytuna College, Athens Council for Continuing Education of the Elderly, and many churches of different denominations. In 2004 Dr. Godlas was the DeLamotte Lecturer at Shorter College in Rome, GA.; also he was the 2016 Interlandi lecturer in Contemplation at Brown University (RI). (Click on the previous link to see Dr. Godlas' lecture on contemplation in Islam.) He has also lectured internationally, delivering papers and invited presentations in Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Singapore, Malaysia, India, U.K., Australia, Bahamas, South Africa, and Nigeria, and by digital video to Senegal. In UGA's Georgia Magazine (Decemember, 2003) Click here for an article that discusses Dr. Godlas' life and work. It was based on a lengthier biographical article on Dr. Godlas (fixed November 25, 2012, wait about 30 seconds for it to load) that traces the intellectual journey of his life titled "Surrendering to God" by Philip Lee Williams (UGA Franklin College Chronicle, Fall 2003). The most recent discussion of Dr. Godlas and his work is the article Improving Global Understanding, One Bias at a Time published in October 2006.

Recent Publications:

  • "Surrender: Its Significance for Today and in the Qur'an Commentary of Ruzbihan al-Baqli," in Beacon of Knowledge: Essays in Honor of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ed. by Mohammad Faghoory, 2003.
  • Editor of Remembrance: Proceedings of the First Annual International Milad an-Nabi Conference. Chicago: 1995. This can be ordered from Dr. A. Mirza at NFIE.
  • "Hadith and the Qudsiya of Khwajah Muhammad Parsa," in Remembrance. Chicago: 1995, 50-73.
  • "The Naqshbandi Lineage of Shaykh Ma'sum Naqshbandi (al-Kurdi)," in Remembrance. Chicago: 1995, 91-96.
  • "Psychology and Self-Transformation in the (Arabic) Sufi Qur'an Commentary of Ruzbihan al-Baqli('Ara'is al-bayan),"Sufi Illuminations, 1(1996) 31-62. This journal can be ordered from Dr. A. Mirza at NFIE.
  • "A Commentary on 'What is Tasawwuf?'-An Anonymous Persian Poem," Sufi Illuminations, 1(1996) 63-80.
  • "Rifa'iya," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. by John Esposito (New York: Oxford, 1995) 437-439. 
  • "Ni'matallahiya," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. by John Esposito, (New York: Oxford, 1995) 252-53.
  • Currently Dr. Godlas is translating and editing Ruzbihan al-Baqli's encyclopedic esoteric Sufi Qur'anic commentary, 'Ara'is al-bayan (The Brides of the Qur'an). When finished will number roughly 3,000 pages.

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