William A. Graham

William A. Graham

Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor (Emeritus)
Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies (Emeritus)
William A. Graham


William A. Graham was a teaching faculty member of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences 1973-2018 and a member of the Faculty of Divinity 2002-2018. He served as Dean of Harvard Divinity School from 2002 to 2012, after which he returned to fulltime scholarship and teaching until he became emeritus in 2018. He also served as director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program, master of Currier House, and chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on the Study of Religion, and the Core Curriculum Committee on Foreign Cultures.

His scholarly work has focused on early Islamic religious history and textual traditions (Qur’an and Hadith), and on comparative topics in the global history of religion. His book Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam was awarded the American Council of Learned Societies History of Religions Prize in 1978. He is the author also of Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion (1987) and Islamic and Comparative Religious Studies (2010), as well as numerous articles and reviews. He has co-authored three books, among them The Heritage of World Civilizations (1986; 10th ed., 2016) and Three Faiths, One God (2002).

Graham is a former chair of the Council on Graduate Studies in Religion (North America). In 2000 he received the quinquennial Award for Excellence in Research in Islamic History and Culture from the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the research institute of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal of Law and Religion. He has held John Simon Guggenheim and Alexander von Humboldt research fellowships and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is a summa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences as well as honorary doctorates from UNC and Lehigh University.


Contact Information

Study of Religion
Barker Center #302
12 Quincy St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Office Hours: By appointment


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