Sara Haq

Ph.D. Women’s Studies, University of Maryland (2018), MA Interdisciplinary Studies, Concentration in Women and Gender Studies (2012), George Mason University; BS Psychology (2004), George Mason University

Sara was born in Pakistan and raised in the United States. Her research lies at the intersection of gender and sexuality studies and Islamic studies. She received her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies and a disciplinary focus in Sufism from George Mason University in 2012. Her masters’ thesis, titled “Beyond Binary Barzakhs: Using the Theme of Liminality in Islamic Thought to Question the Gender Binary,” explored how “in-between” spaces were theorzied in Islamic traditional and mystical thought, and also analyzed the experience of third-gender people or “hijras” in South Asia.

In her doctoral work, Sara uses Sufi thought as an epistemological approach to sexuality studies. Her dissertation project titled “Sufiminism: The Sexual, the Spiritual, the Self” takes up the following question: what does an exploration of sexual politics within Islam look like if the mandate of respectability is refused? The project examines the relationship between Islam and sexuality with a specific focus on bringing Sufi ideas to bear on feminist conversations about heteronormativity, consent, and the divide between licit versus illicit sex. Using a combination of textual analysis with experiential narratives of sexually marginalized Muslims, the project offers an interdisciplinary exploration of the subversive potential of Sufism.

Sara is fluent in Urdu, Punjabi, and English, and keeps close ties with South Asian culture. Given her interest in Persian Sufi literature, she is now studying Persian at UMD. Sara comes to UMD with many years of professional experience working for international nonprofits including United Nations’ NGO Committee on the Status of Women. Sara is also a kathak dancer trained in the Lucknow school, with a special interest in Sufi Kathak.


Courses taught: 
WS100: Confronting Inequality: Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary American Society, Goucher Prison Education Partnership, Spring 2017
WMST320/PCE321: Transnational Feminist Theory and Women’s Activism, Goucher College, Fall 2016
WMST250: Women, Art and Culture, University of Maryland, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Summer 2017
WMST298: Women’s Bodies in Contention, University of Maryland, Spring 2015
RELI272: Islam, George Mason University, Spring 2012
RELI375: Qur’an and Hadith, George Mason University, Spring 2012


Note on Presentations and Speaking Engagements:

Sara continues to present at national and international conferences in an effort to converse deeply with transnational scholars in the fields of both Islamic studies and gender and sexuality studies. At the 2016 National Women’s Studies Association Conference, she organized a panel on “Gender, Sexuality and Islam: Performing De/coloniality through Islamic Feminism,” with presentations ranging from historical analyses of slavery in Islamic law to thinking about slavery in the context of BDSM through the lens of Sufi thought. In an effort to bridge the gap between Islamic studies in the US and Islamic studies in South Asia, she has presented her work at the Annual Conference on South Asia in Madison as well as the Transcultural Humanities in South Asia Conference at Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan. She has also presented her work at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the East-West Philosophers’ Conference at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. She was invited to speak at the International Symposium on Raimon Panikkar in his hometown of Catalonia, Spain.

For a full CV, please contact Sara Haq at