My research interests revolve around sainthood and authority in early Islam. More broadly, I study Islamic mysticism and Sufi movements in the early and modern periods. I teach courses in Islamic Mysticism, Law, Theology and Civilization. I also teach Arabic courses and have done work in Arabic language pedagogy, particulary online Arabic learning.
PhD Islamic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 2015
MA Teaching Arabic as Foreign Language, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 2009
MS Education, TESOL, California State University, Fullerton 2001
BA History, University of California, Los Angeles
Professor Palmer's research focuses on the social and theoretical foundations of early Islamic authority, looking particularly at early Islamic sainthood.
Project Overview: Sainthood and authority in early Islam, how the saints of God inherited the Sunni caliphate
This monograph traces the development of Islamic authority from the beginnings of Islam up through the 4th Islamic century. The focus is primarily on the works of the early mystic and sage al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi who was the first Sunni to write discursively on the topic of authority and sainthood within Islamdom. I refer to a hitherto unstudied manuscript attributed to al-Tirmidhi titled Kitab al-Hikma (The Book of Wisdom). This work demonstrates that al-Tirmidhi is not only discussing sainthood but also involved in a greater discourse in Islamicate lands around the topic of authority. Using theories in Sociology I demonstrate how the discourse on early Islamic authority has its roots in deeply embeded social structures related to pre-Islamic Arab society. These structures melded with and changed in an ongoing negotiation of power with other social systems with whom Arabs Muslims came in contact.
Publications in Progress
“Revisiting the Seal-Structure of Walaya in Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-Hikam”
“Sufism and Hadith” in A Concise Companion to Hadith
“al-Karkhi Maruf”, Encyclopedia of Islam II, Brill
“Aql in Sufism”, Encyclopedia of Islam II, Brill