Described by colleagues as one of the most promising scholars in Syria, Issam Eido is an expert on Islam and Muslim intellectual history. In Syria, he established the Dalalah Institute in Damascus, which from 2005 to 2011 served to educate students and researchers of classical Arabic, Islamic sciences, and Near Eastern studies. The Institute addressed the needs of students—200 of whom he taught personally, many of them Fulbright scholars—who traveled to Syria from the United States and Europe in search of private language and area studies courses. Due to his close collaborations with Fulbright scholars, Dr. Eido became the target of harassment and intimidation by Syrian intelligence officials. Escalating threats to his security led him to flee Syria.
Supported by his IIE-SRF fellowship, Dr. Eido joined the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he established the school’s two-quarter Qur’anic Arabic sequence. Challenged to teach in a second language at a top-tier, world-class university, he rose to surpass expectations. His contributions to the school were, according to the university, “of the highest caliber.”
“I believe that there are crossroads in life where the future of any individual will define his past. So with the opportunity of teaching at the University of Chicago, one of the top academic institutions in the world, I felt that every step in my academic life after this opportunity should be taken seriously. People in academia, in particular those who are in top institutions, always assess, evaluate and follow, so it is my responsibility to prove that every single thing I write or participate should be highly scholarly.”
In addition to teaching around 50 students during his time at the University of Chicago, Dr. Eido edited two books, On the Origins of Hadith Terminology: The Dividing Line Between Early and Late Hadith Scholars, which was published in 2015, and The Criteria of Verifying Hadith Among Early Hadith Scholars, which will be published soon.
After completing his IIE-SRF fellowship in August 2015, Dr. Eido joined Vanderbilt University permanently as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies. He continues research he began in Chicago on the criterion used by Muslim scholars to verify prophetic hadith in the first three Islamic centuries, and is currently writing a book that covers three major intellectual movements that reflect Islamic history: rational, traditional, and legal. At the annual conference of the American Oriental Society in March 2015 and 2016, he presented the first two chapters of the book. He has begun new research into the presentation of homosexuality in different discourses of Qur’anic and Islamic law schools.
Along with his research, Dr. Eido continues to teach small, intimate classes on Islamic studies at Vanderbilt. He is also invested in helping his fellow Syrians. He has connected Syrian colleagues with institutions in Turkey.