AGYA Member

Bilal Orfali

Arabic & Islamic Studies

Areas of Expertise for Media Inquiries:
Arabic Literature, Sufism, Qur’anic Studies

About me

I am Associate Professor at the American University of Beirut and was previously the Sofia Chair of Arabic Studies at the Ohio State University. My interests in Arabic literature include Abbasid prose and poetry, Arabic stylistics and metrics, literary anthologies, maqāmāt, patronage, and courtly life. My research on Qurʾān, Sufism, and Arabic grammar highlights some of the links between literature and these disciplines.

The intersection of sciences and humanities and the bridges between the two is a topic that has always fascinated me since my undergraduate studies in mathematics and statistics. I am a supporter of building links between the Arab world and other regions to promote research and academic culture.

Current projects


  • Member of the AGYA Working Group Common Heritage and Common Challenges: Organizing a conference: Insatiable Appetite: Food as a Cultural Signifier
  • Member of the AGYA Working Group Arab and German Education
  • Member of the AGYA Working Group Transformation: Participating in the collective volume on Academia in Transformation

Academic Career

2013 - Associate Professor, Department of Arabic & N.E.L., American University of Beirut (AUB); Lebanon
2014 - 2015
Associate Professor & Sofia Chair, Department of Near Eastern Languages (N.E.L.) and Cultures, The Ohio State University; Columbus/OH, USA
2011 - 2012 Member, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study; Princeton/NJ, USA
2009 - 2013 Assistant Professor, Department of Arabic & N.E.L., AUB; Lebanon
2009 PhD, Department of N.E.L. & Civilizations, Yale University (YU); New Haven/CT, USA
2008 Instructor, Department of N.E.L. & Civilizations, YU; New Haven/CT, USA
2006 - 2014 Director, Arabic Language School, Center for Arabic & Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES), AUB; Lebanon
2006 - M.Phil., Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, Department of N.E.L. & Civilizations, YU; New Haven/CT, USA
2005 - 2007 Teaching Fellow, Department of N.E.L. & Civilizations, YU; New Haven/CT, USA
2003 MA, Arabic Language & Literature, AUB; Lebanon
2002 - 2005 Instructor, CAMES, AUB; Lebanon

Selected Publications


  • Orfali, B. & Baalbaki, R. (2015). Book of Noble Character: Critical Edition of Makārim al-akhlāq wa-maḥāsin al-ādāb wa-badāʾiʿ al-awṣāf wa-gharāʾib al-tashbīhāt Attributed to Abū Manur al-Thaʿālibī. Leiden: Brill.
  • Bowering, G. & Orfali, B. (2013). The Comfort of the Mystics: A Manual and Anthology of Sufism. Leiden: Brill.
  • Orfali, B. & Saab, N. (2012). Sufism: Black and White, A Critical Edition of Kitāb al-Bayāḍ wa-l-Sawād by Abū l-Ḥasan al-Sīrjānī (d. ca.470/1077). Leiden: Brill.

see a full list of publications>


American University of Beirut Faculty of Arts and Sciences Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages

P.O. Box 11-0236 Riad El Solh Beirut 1107 2020 Lebanon

+961 1350 000 3860

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