Faces of DC

faces of dc

Faces of DC interviewed Dr. Alwani about her work at Howard University’s School of Divinity in Northeast DC. 

Below is an excerpt. To read the full article, please click here.


“When we decide to serve humanity, it means we have to be inclusive, you have to be open,” Zainab Alwani tells me, her face framed by a pretty pink and black polka dot hijab. Alwani is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at the Howard University School of Divinity in Northeast DC. This department is the first of its kind, and Alwani is its premiere Islamic scholar, specializing in jurisprudence and gender equality.

In her office on the first floor of the school overlooking what appears to be a courtyard ripped out of a historical relic, it is no surprise that Alwani got her doctorate degree to become a professor, a scholar and an activist. Alwani comes from a line of an intellectually and politically engaged lineage. Her stepmother, Muna Abul Fadl was a pioneering researcher, writer and former Fulbright scholar.

However, this erudite path did not seem so predestined just over two decades ago. In her early twenties, Alwani was in Iraq, unable to pursue her bachelor’s degree due to an ever-tumultuous political situation.

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