Amir Hussain, chair and professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, has been elected vice president for the American Academy of Religion (AAR), the largest scholarly society in the world dedicated to the academic study of religion, with an international membership of more than 8,000 people.
“Like others, I want LMU to be the premier Catholic university in the West, and the place in Los Angeles for the serious study of religion,” said Hussain. “I’m humbled and honored to be elected by my colleagues into this position of leadership, and it will be a great way to introduce LMU and its wealth of resources to them.”
Initially an association for scholars of biblical studies, today the AAR supports those who study any and all religions. In the 110-year history of the organization, Hussain is the fourth scholar of Islam, and the first Muslim to be elected to a three-year term in a presidential line, meaning Hussain will serve as vice president for 2021, president-elect for 2022, and president for 2023.
Hussain began his affiliation with the AAR as a graduate student in 1989. Over the years, Hussain has been elected or appointed to numerous roles and committees. In 2019 he was elected to the board of directors, and from 2011-15 he was the first Muslim to be editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Hussain’s role as editor also made LMU the first Catholic university to host the journal. As a member of the board of directors and the board’s executive committee, he will help guide the direction of the AAR through strategic planning, policy development, assessment, and advocacy.
Hussain, who was born in Pakistan and grew up in Canada, is especially committed to the international component of the AAR’s mission “to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion.” His work is primarily in the study of Islam, focusing on contemporary Muslim societies in North America. In addition to being an internationally recognized scholar, Hussain is also known for his deep commitment to students. He was chosen Professor of the Year by LMU students in 2008 and 2009.
Hussain is also interested in areas such as religion and music, religion and literature, religion and film, and religion and popular culture. He has been an advisor for several television shows, most recently “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.” In 2008, he was appointed a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.
His most recent book is the fourth edition of “A Concise Introduction to World Religions” published by Oxford University Press in 2019. The author or editor of eight other books, Hussain has also published over 60 book chapters and scholarly articles about religion.
View AAR’s election announcement here.