The Open University of Israel

Prof. Daphna Ephrat

Department of History, Philosophy and Judaic Studies

Updated: February 2016


Tel: 972-9-7781359


Professional Education

1993 Ph.D Middle Eastern Studies and History; Harvard University
1986 M.A (magna cumlaude); Middle Eastern History and General History; Tel-Aviv University
1982 B.A (cumlaude); Middle Eastern History; Tel-Aviv University

Research Fields

  • Medieval Islamic associations and institutions
  • History of the transmission of Islamic learning
  • Religious scholars in medieval Muslim societies
  • Sainthood, mystical movements, and ascetic collectivities in medieval Islam
  • The public sphere in medieval Islam
  • Medieval Baghdad
  • Medieval Palestine

Current Research

2011-2014 The Israel Science Foundation (ISF), "In the footsteps of the Prophet: spiritual leadership in a medieval Islamic setting."

List of Publications


Thesis and Dissertation

  • PhD Dissertation: The ‘ulama‘ of 11th-century Baghdad and the transmission of Islamic learning. Supervised by Prof. Roy P. Mottahedeh and Prof. Nehemia Levtzion. Harvard University, 1993.
  • MA Thesis: Ottoman Egypt in the 18th century: as viewed by a contemporary Egyptian historian. Supervised by Prof. Ehud R. Toledano, Tel Aviv University, 1986.

Professional Books

  • Spiritual Wayfarers, Leaders in Piety: Sufis and the Dissemination of Islam in Medieval Palestine. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (HCMES: Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies), 2008.
  • A Learned Society in a Period of Transition: The Sunni ‘Ulama‘ of Eleventh-Century Baghdad. Albany N.Y: State University of New York Press (series: Medieval Middle East History), 2000.
  • Introduction to the History of Islam, co-authored with Nehemia Levtzion and Daniella Talmon-Heller, Open University series, 2000-2008 (in Hebrew).


Edited Books

Religious Knowledge, Authority, and Charisma: Islamic and Jewish Perspectives, Daphna Ephrat and Meir Hatina eds., and Introduction, Utah University Press, 2014. 

Chapters in Refereed Books

  • "The Shaykh, the Followers, and the Public Sphere: the case study of the Khalwati Brotherhood in Israel" (in Hebrew), forthcoming in a volume on Islam in Israel/Hakibutz ha-Meuhad, Meir Hatina and Muhammad al-Atawneh (eds.).
  • "Spiritual Heirs of the Prophet," in Daphna Ephrat and Meir Hatina (eds.), Religious Knowledge, Authority and Charisma: Islamic and Jewish Perspectives, chapter 5.
  • "The Seljuks and the Public Sphere in the Period of Sunni Revivalism: The View from Baghdad," in Christian Lang and Songul Mecit (eds.), The Seljuks: politics, power and culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), 139-157.
  • "Sufism and Sanctity: The Genesis of the walī Allāh in Mamluk Jerusalem and Hebron," in David Wasserstein and Ami Ayalon (eds.), Mamluk and Ottoman Studies in Honor of Michael Winter (Frank Cass, 2006), 4-18.
  • "Madhhab and Madrasa in Fifth/Eleventh-Century Baghdad," in Frank E. Vogel, Rudolph Peters and Peri Bearman (eds.), The Islamic School of Law: Evolution, Devolution, and Progress (Harvard University Press: Harvard Series in Islamic Law, 2005), 77-93.
  • "The Growth of the Geonic Yeshiva and the Islamic Madrasa," in Y. Elman and I. Gershoni (eds.), Transmitting Jewish Traditions: Orality, Textuality and Cultural Diffusion (Yale University Press Studies in Jewish Culture and Society, 2000), 107-137. Co-author with Y. Elman.
  • "The Advent of the Madrasa: A Real Turning-Point in the History of Islamic Education?" in Rivka Feldhay and Immanuel Etkes (eds.), Education and History (Jerusalem: the Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History), 101-13 (in Hebrew).

Articles in Refereed Journals

  • "The Shaykh and the Holy Space: The Creation of a New Sacred Topography in Medieval Damascus and Aleppo," forthcoming in Historia: Journal of the Historical Society of Israel (in Hebrew).
  • "The Creation of Sufi Spheres in Medieval Damascus (mid-12th to mid-14th centuries)”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Cambridge University Press) (October 2014), 1-20. Co-authored with Hatim Mahamid.
  •  "Control of the Path: The Marginalization and Exclusion of Undesirable Elements in the Earlier Middle Period," al-Qantara, XXXV (Jan. 2014), 255-276.
  • "The Shaykh, the Physical Setting, and the Holy Site: the diffusion of the Qadiri path in late medieval Palestine," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Cambridge University Press), 19: 1 (Jan. 2009), 1-20.
  • From Wayfaring Elites to Local Associations: Sufis in Medieval Palestine," al-Qantara, 27 (Jan. 2006), 77-104.
  • The Dissemination of Sufism and the Print of Islam in Medieval Palestine," Zemanim, 92 (2005), 8-16 (in Hebrew).
  • "Muslim Reactions to the Frankish Presence in Bilād al-Shām: Intensifying Religious Fidelity within the Masses," Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, 15: 1 (March 2003), 47-59. Co-author with Mustafa D. Kabha.
  • "Intensified Religious Fidelity and Higher Barriers: Muslims and Franks in ash-Sham," Cathedra 92 (1999), 49-64. Co-author with Mustafa D. Kabha (in Hebrew).
  • "In Quest of an Ideal Type of Saint: Some Observations on the First generation of Awliyā Allāh in Kitāb al-Tashawwuf," Studia Islamica 94 (2002), 67-85.
  • "Learning in the First Century of the Madrasah in Baghdad: A Reconsideration of the Social Significance of Institutionalization," Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review 3: 1-2 (1996), 77-103.

Book Reviews

Review of: Mojaddedi, Jawid, A. The Biographical Tradition in Sufism. London, 2001, in Jama´a. The Department of Middle East Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press, 12 (2004), 275-81 (in Hebrew).

Review of: Stephennie Mulder, The Shrines of the 'Alids in Medieval Syria," Edinburgh 2014. In Der Islam (forthcoming)


Articles in Edited Encyclopedias

  • Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia .J. Meri (ed.) Routledge, 2006:
    "Ibn al-Jawzi" (750 words)
    "Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi" (550 words)
  • The Encyclopedia of Islam, EI3 (3rd edition). Leiden, 2009-:
    "Adud Din Muhammad b. ‘Abdallah" (150 words)
  • Oxford Encyclopedia of Legal History. Oxford Encyclopedia of Legal History.
    "Al-Kalwadhani" (480 words);
    "The Legal Profession" (1240 words).