Assistant Professor of Arabic
Office: Carswell 316
Phone: (336) 758-2516

Dr. A. Z. Obiedat is an Assistant Professor of Arabic Language and Culture at Wake Forest University, North Carolina. He received his Ph.D. in Arab-Islamic Philosophy and Science from McGill University in Montréal, Canada, in 2011. In 2004 he received his MA from the same institution, in Arabic Discourse Analysis in Islamic Law. Before joining Wake Forest University in 2015, he served as Senior Lecturer of Arabic Language and Culture at the University of Virginia (2007-2015), and in 2011 as Program Coordinator of its 400-plus student Arabic Program. Since 2006, Dr. Obiedat has taught more than 75 university courses for students in Canadian and American Universities. This includes all undergraduate levels of Modern Standard Arabic, Spoken Arabic Dialect, and Advanced Media Arabic. For Arab-Islamic history and culture taught in English, Dr. Obiedat created and taught several new interdisciplinary courses, such as a “Survey of Arab-Islamic Civilization through Literature.” He also taught other content classes, including “The Language of the Qur’an and Hadith,” and “The West versus the Rest: Strife over Modernity.” This line of thinking was further developed in his recent book:

In praise of this work, Wael Hallaq of Columbia University commented that “This is the first comparative study ever to engage the impressive oeuvres of Mario Bunge and Abdurrahman Taha.” Distinguished University Professor of the University of Pittsburgh, Nicholas Rescher, added that “the relationships between Arab-Islamic and Western Scientific philosophy is both real and unfortunate. Professor Obiedat’s instructive discussion provides an informative step towards repairing this regrettable omission.”

Dr. Obiedat is an opinion columnist at the al-Jazeera Arabic website, a member of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and the Arab Society of Logic and Epistemology, and serves as an academic reviewer for Al-Arabiyya, the Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic. His Academia website was ranked in the “top 1% of world researchers” (Feb 16th, 2018) and currently has more than 16k total views

Dr. Obiedat was trained in two different academic communities, those of the English-speaking Western world and of the Arabic-speaking Islamic world. Following from this duality, his research interests include both contemporary analytic, evolutionary, and science-oriented philosophy, as articulated by Nicholas Rescher (b. 1928) and Mario Bunge (1919-2020); and also classical Arab-Islamic scholasticism in the fields of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), theology (kalam), and mysticism (tasawwuf). The common thread between these classical and contemporary domains is the intellectual and political strife over modernity in Western and Middle Eastern contexts.

Aljazeera Interview


As an Arabist, Dr. Obeidat’s research interests also extend to Arabic semantics (‘ilm al-dilālah), as established in Arabic literature, rhetoric, translation studies, and Arabic philology. This interest produced the following (peer-reviewed) publications:

  1. Axiomatizing Elementary Arabic Syntax”, in The International Journal for Arabic Linguistics and Literature Studies, 2019,
  2. The Semantic Field of Love in Classical Arabic: Understanding the Subconscious Meaning Preserved in Love Lexicons through their Etymologies,” in Korangy’s Beloved: Love and Languish in Middle Eastern Literatures (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017),
  3. Friendship in Arabic: Its Synonyms, Etymologies, and Transformations” in Mahallati’s Friendship in Islamic Ethics and World Politics (MI: University of Michigan Press, 2019),
  4. Defining the Good in the Qur’an: A Conceptual Systemization” in The Journal of Qur’anic Studies 2012, of the Edinburgh University Press, and
  5. The forthcoming “What Did God Intend to Say? Arabic Semantics as A Legal and Cognitive Enterprise”.

This line of research brings a modern insight to an old line of Arabic semantics and its etymological traditions. On the contemporary intellectual side, Dr. Obeidat’s research has produced the following (peer-reviewed) articles and chapters:

  1. How Can Bunge’s Scientific-Humanistic Ethics Engage Islamic Moral-Law?” in Michael R. Matthews’ Mario Bunge Centenary Festschrift (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2019),
  2. Identity Contradictions in Islamic Awakening: Harmonizing Intellectual Spheres of Identity,” in The Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 2019,
  3. Fukuyama’s Advice to the Arabs: People’s Sovereignty, Bureaucratic Independence, and Legislative Minimalism” in Arabic as “نصيحة فوكوياما للأمة العربية: حاكمية الأمة، واستقلاليّة الإداريين، ومقاصِدِيَّةُ التشريع” in al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi Journal, 2020,
  4. Between the Continentals and the Anglophones: Arab Philosophical Exploration Between the Enslavement of Imitation and Intelligence” in Arabic as “بين الفلاسفة القاريين والأنجلوفونيين: الاستطلاع الفلسفي العربي بين عبودية التقليد والعمل الاستخباري”, in Al-Mukhatabat Journal, April, 2020,
  5. What is the Explanation for the Low Social Status of Working in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Arts in the Contemporary Arab World?” in Arabic as “ما تعليل هامشيَّة الاشتغال بالإنسانيات والاجتماعيَّات والفنون في الوطن العربي؟” by Tabayyun 2018,
  6. “كيف يمكنُ بَعْثُ كُلِّيَّاتِ الشّريعةِ من مَواتِها؟ أو تسديدُ المقاصِد لأَساتِذَة ِكُلِّيات الشريعة وإصلاحُ المناهج لطلبتها”, [ lit. How Can Departments of Sharī‘ah (Islamic Studies) be Resurrected? Reforming the Objectives and Curricula], Mu’minūn bilā Ḥudūd, Aug 7th, 2018, pages: 1-32. 
  7. “تَهافُتُ مَركَزِيَّةِ العقيدةِ في الخِطابِ الإِسلاميِّ وأَوْلَوِيَّةُ المُفاضَلَةِ بين البشر بالعملِ الصالحِ”, [lit. Deconstruction of Creed Centrality in Islamic Discourse and the Primacy of Good Deeds in Differentiating between Humans], in an edited volume in Arabic, al-Tasāmuḥ fī al-Thaqāfah al-‘Arabiyyah: Dirāsah Naqdiyyah (Beirut: Mu’minūn bilā Ḥudūd, 2018), edited by Dr. Néjia Ouriemmi of Université de Tunis El Manar, pages: 177-218., and
  8. The essay in English, currently under review, “Mitigating the Strife between Atheists and Islamists in the Arab World: Dissolving Supremacy of Principles within Socio-Historical Reality”.

This line of research continues the endeavor of critical Islamic thought from Ṭahṭāwī and Afghānī to al-Jābirī, Naṣr Ḥāmid Abū Zayd, Abū Yaʻrub Al-Marzūqī, and many others.