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Mohammad Magout

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Postdoctoral visiting fellow, October 2018 - August 2019

Before joining the Orient-Institut Beirut, Mohammad Magout was a Senior Researcher at The Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies "Multiple Secularities - Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities" at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He completed his PhD studies at the same university in 2016 with a dissertation titled "Between Religion and Culture: Academic Discourse and Religious Subjectivity at Two Nizari Ismaili Institutions for Islamic Studies in London", for which he was awarded the Katharina Windscheid Prize of the Research Academy Leipzig (2017). Mohammad has a master’s degree in Muslim Cultures (2010) from the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, Aga Khan University, London, where he wrote his MA thesis about heavy metal music in Syria, and a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Damascus (2006).

In addition to Arab thought during the 19th C, Mohammad’s research interests include the sociology of religion in the Arab world, theories of secularity, religion and knowledge, transnational religion, and pop culture.

His research project "Imagining Society, Religion, and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Periodic Press in Beirut" examines discourses about religion and its relationship to other social spheres, institutions, and concepts in the Arabic periodic press in Beirut in the late 19th C. The focus in this study is twofold: the contents of the press as well as its significance as a modern medium of communication that contributed to the formation of a transregional Arab public sphere, in which new modes of social consciousness and imaginaries took shape. The project will concentrate on two local and two missionary periodicals: al-Jinān (founded by Butrus al-Bustani and edited by his son Salim), Thamarāt al-Funūn (the first private periodical issued by Muslims in the Arab world), al-Bashīr (issued by Jesuit missionaries), and al-Nashra al-ᵓUsbūᶜiyya (launched by American Protestant missionaries). Furthermore, it will deal with interactions between these periodicals and other contemporary periodicals in the region in order to provide a broader picture of the Arabic press during its early years. The goal of the study is to contribute to the historicization of conceptions of secularity, religion, and identity in late Arab-Ottoman social thought in light of concrete social and political developments at the local (Beirut, Mount Lebanon), regional (the province of Syria), and transregional (Ottoman, Mediterranean) levels.



Journal Articles

Magout, Mohammad. 2019. “Transnationalizing Multiple Secularities: A Comparative Study of the Global Ismaili Community” in Historical Social Research, Special Issue “Muslim Secularities” [forthcoming]

Heilen, Julia and Mohammad Magout .2018. “Conference Report: Workshop ‘Muslim Secularities: Explorations into Concepts of Distinction and Practice of Differentiation’, Leipzig University”, Zeitschrift für Recht und Islam [forthcoming]

Book Chapters:

Magout, Mohammad .2019. "Between Societal and Internal Secularization: An Overview of Cultures of Secularity in Contemporary Nizari Ismaili Communities." In I. Akhtar (Ed.) Rāhē Najāt (The Path of Salvation): Religious and Social Dynamics of Mercantile Communities in the Western Indian Ocean, Festschrift for Françoise Mallison. Leiden: Brill, p. 37-54 [forthcoming]

Magout, Mohammad .2015. “Ismaili Discourse on Religion in the Public Sphere: Culture as a Mediating Concept” in Y. Suleiman (Ed.) Muslims in the UK and Europe I, Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge, p. 140-149; available at <>


Magout, Mohammad .2013. “Heavy Metal as Religion and Secularization as Ideology: A Sociological Approach”, The Religious Studies Project, 9 October; available at <>

Magout, Mohammad .2012. “Cultural Dynamics in the Syrian Uprising”, The annual conference of the Graduate Section of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, London, UK, 11 June; available at <>