John Louis Esposito (born May 19, 1940) is an American professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is also the director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim–Christian Understanding at Georgetown.
Esposito was born in Brooklyn, New York City on 19 May 1940. He was raised a Roman Catholic in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, and spent a decade in a Catholic monastery. After taking his first degree he worked as a management consultant and high-school teacher. He then studied and received a masters in theology at St. John’s University. He earned a PhD at Temple University, Pennsylvania in 1974, studying Islam and held postdoctoral appointments at Harvard and Oxford.
For nearly twenty years after completing his PhD, Esposito had taught religious studies (including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam) at the College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit college in Massachusetts. At Holy Cross, Esposito held the Loyola Professor of Middle East Studies position, was the chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and the director of college’s Center for International Studies. At Georgetown University, Esposito holds the position of University Professor and teaches as both Professor of Religion and International Affairs and Professor of Islamic Studies. Esposito also works as a Senior Scientist at the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, where he co-authored Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, which was published in March 2008.
He published Islam and Politics in 1984, and Islam: The Straight Path in 1988. Both books sold well, going through many editions. In addition to more than 35 books, he is editor-in-chief of a number of Oxford reference works including The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, The Oxford History of Islam, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (six vols.), and Oxford Islamic Studies Online.
In 1988, he was elected president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). He has also served as president of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies. He served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy from 1999 to 2004 and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders and the High Level Group of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations. He was an advisor to the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet (2002), produced by Unity Productions Foundation. A recipient of the American Academy of Religion’s 2005 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion and of Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam Award for Outstanding Contributions in Islamic Studies, in 2003 he received the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University Award for Outstanding Teaching.
He is currently Vice President (2012) and President Elect (2013) of the American Academy of Religion and a member of the E. C. European Network of Experts on De-Radicalisation and the board of C-1 World Dialogue and an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
Esposito founded the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University and is its current director. The center received a $20 million endowment from Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal “to advance education in the fields of Islamic civilization and Muslim-Christian understanding and strengthen its presence as a world leader in facilitating cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.”
- The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, as editor (2009, 5 volume set) ISBN 978-0-19-530513-5
- Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, coauthored with Dalia Mogahed (2008) ISBN 978-1-59562-017-0
- The Oxford History of Islam, as editor (2004) ISBN 0-19-510799-3
- The Islamic World: Past and Present, as editor (2004, 3 volume set) ISBN 0-19-516520-9
- The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, as editor (1995, 4 volume set) ISBN 0-19-506613-8
- The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, as editor (1994) ISBN 0-19-512559-2
- What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam (1st edition: 2002. 2nd edition: 2011) ISBN 978-0-19-979413-3
- The Future of Islam (2010) ISBN 0-19-516521-7
- Islam: The Straight Path (1st edition: 1988, 3rd edition: 2004) ISBN 0-19-518266-9
- Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam (2002) ISBN 0-19-515435-5
- Women in Muslim Family Law, coauthored with Natana J. Delong-Bas (2nd edition: 2002) ISBN 0-8156-2908-7
- Makers of Contemporary Islam, coauthored John Voll (2001) ISBN 0-19-514128-8
- The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? (3rd edition: 1999) ISBN 0-19-513076-6
- Political Islam: Radicalism, Revolution or Reform (1997) ISBN 1-55587-168-2
- Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century as coeditor with Ibrahim Kalin (2011) ISBN 978-0-19-975364-2
- Islam in Asia: Religion, Politics, & Society, as editor (2006) ISBN 0-19-504082-1
- Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Gulen Movement, as coeditor with M. Hakan Yavuz (2003) ISBN 0-8156-3040-9
- Modernizing Islam: Religion in the Public Sphere in the Middle East and Europe, as coeditor with Francois Burgat (2003) ISBN 0-8135-3198-5
- Iran at the Crossroads, as coeditor with R.K. Ramazani (2000) ISBN 0-312-23816-9
- Muslims on the Americanization Path?, as coeditor with Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad (2000) ISBN 0-19-513526-1
- Islam, Gender and Social Change, as coeditor with Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad (1997) ISBN 0-19-511357-8
- Islam and Politics, as editor (1st edition: 1984, 4th edition: 1998) ISBN 0-8156-2774-2
- Islam and Democracy, as coeditor with John Voll (1996) ISBN 0-19-510816-7
- Voices of Resurgent Islam, as editor (1983) ISBN 0-19-503340-X
- Bio of John Esposito, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy. Accessed February 23, 2007
- Esposito, John. Academic Biography, Georgetown University. Accessed February 23, 2007
- Press Release: Georgetown University Receives $20 Million Gift From Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal To Expand Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, December 12, 2005. Accessed February 23, 2007
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- Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
- John Esposito’s CV
- John Esposito’s Homepage
- Oxford Islamic Studies Online, edited by Dr. John L. Esposito
- Muslim true/false, Article by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed
- The University Of Sarajevo Ceremony of Conferring the Honorary Doctoral Degree upon Dr. John Louis Esposito, October 3, 2013
- Works by or about John Esposito in libraries (WorldCat catalog)