The Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar (IISS), founded in 2010, is the only academic forum at the University of Michigan that engages students and faculty who are interested in the study of Islam and Muslim societies in an interdisciplinary and cross-regional conversation. Each year, the group of coordinators plan lectures, workshops, book talks, and more for the faculty and students involved in IISS. This year, the coordinators are Kamal Gasimov, Samet Budak, and Wissam Iman Nuwayhid. Kamal, Samet and Wissam have been IISS coordinators since 2020, and will be continuing their role as coordinators through 2021-2022. 

Below you can meet the faces behind the impactful IISS events and hear more about how they got involved as a coordinator:

Kamal Gasimov

Studies: Middle East Studies (PhD)

Hometown: Baku (Azerbaijan)

Affiliations: Interdisciplinary Islamic Studies Seminar 

Future plans: "Working on my dissertation"

What made you want to become an IISS coordinator and how has it beenI decided to join IISS after attending a variety of its events on the campus. It enriched my life as a graduate student at the UofM. For me, IISS is a unique intellectual platform where we not only learn a lot about Islam and Muslim societies from a cross-regional perspective but also gain a precious opportunity to meet and interact with talented scholars and graduate students. I am very grateful to the Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops program and to all the amazing people who made IISS happen. Especially, I would like to thank Hana Mattar for all her knowledge, help and time that she dedicates to IISS and its coordinators. I also would like to thank Karla Mallette, Samer Ali, Alexander Knysh, Muzammil Hussain, Nataša Gruden-Alajbegović, Bader AlBader, Michelle Al-Ferzly, all IISS's previous graduate coordinators, and everyone who supported and maintained this platform at different times.

Favorite IISS Event: All IISS events were special!

Samet Budak

Studies: Middle East Studies, PhD (2023); MA (2019); History, BA (2016).

Hometown: Izmir, Turkey

Affiliations: American Historical Association (AHA), Renaissance Society of America (RSA), The Medieval Academy of America (MAA), Middle East Studies Association (MESA), Hakluyt Society

Future plans: After finishing my dissertation, I am hoping to develop new research and teaching tools for Middle Eastern history, especially within the field of digital Humanities.

What made you want to become an IISS coordinator and how has it been: I was really impressed by the elasticity and multiplicity of the interdisciplinary character of the IISS. The ISSS provides room for new, fresh, and completely non-conventional types of academic endeavors. That is why, I wanted to be a part of it and contribute to the development of this fruitful academic atmosphere. Being a coordinator, immensely advanced my organizational skills and academic evolution thanks to the pluralist and friendly community of the IISS.  

Favorite IISS Event: The “Talisman of the World”: Mawlāna Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī and the Mongols in 13th-Century Seljuk Anatolia.

Wissam Iman Nuwayhid    

Studies: Islamic Studies (PhD)

Hometown: Beirut, Lebanon

What made you want to become an IISS coordinator and how has it been: I first heard about IISS from Kamal Gasimov in the Fall of 2019. I was invited to give a talk at IISS about my master's thesis. The kindness and professionalism of the organizers drew my attention. I began to attend all the lectures IISS offered and I was greatly enriched by the content such that when I was approached by the organizers I could resist joining. 

Favorite IISS Event: The “Talisman of the World”: Mawlāna Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī and the Mongols in 13th-Century Seljuk Anatolia

Are you a faculty member or graduate student interested in joining IISS or giving a presentation? If so, please contact the IISS graduate student coordinators at IISScoordinators@umich.edu. For information on upcoming IISS public lectures and workshops, please check the GISC Events Calendar or contact the coordinators to be added to the mailing list.