Jonathan A.C. Brown (born 1977) is an American scholar of Islamic studies. Since 2012, he has been associate professor at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. In 2014, he was appointed Chair of Islamic Civilization. He is the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law.

He has authored several books including Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy, Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, and The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim. He has also published articles in the fields of Hadith, Islamic law, Salafism, Sufism, and Arabic language.


Brown was born on August 9, 1977 in Washington, DC. He was named after his father, Johanathan Brown. His family was Episcopalian Christian.[1]

[2] He was raised as an Anglican and converted to Islam in 1997.[3] Brown graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2000 from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., studied Arabic for a year at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad at the American University of Cairo, and completed his doctorate in Islamic thought at the University of Chicago in 2006.[4]

From 2006 to 2010 he taught in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Washington in Seattle, and since 2010 has been Assistant Professor in Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Understanding in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.[4] He is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[5]

He has written on Hadith, Islamic law, Sufism, Arabic lexical theory and Pre-Islamic poetry and is currently focused on the history of forgery and historical criticism in Islamic civilization and modern conflicts between late Sunni Traditionalism and Salafism in Islamic Thought.[6] His research has taken him to Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia, India and Iran among others.[4]


Misquoting Muhammad (a book)

In his book Misquoting Muhammad, Brown argues that the “depth and breadth” of the early Muslim scholars’ achievement in assessing the authenticity of saying and texts “dwarfed” that of the fathers of the Christian church.[7] The book received many positive reviews,[8][9][10] and was named as one of the top books on religion of 2014 by The Independent.[11]


Books authored

    Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy, Oneworld Publications, 2014 | 384 p | ISBN 978-1780744209

    Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2011 | 160 p | ISBN 978-0199559282

    Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, Oneworld Publications, Foundations of Islam series, 2009 | 320 p | ISBN 978-1851686636

    The Canonization of al-Bukhārī and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunnī Ḥadīth Canon, Brill Publishers, 2007 | 434 p | ISBN 978-9004158399


    "Is Islam Easy to Understand or Not?: Salafis, the Democratization of Interpretation and the Need for the Ulama". Journal of Islamic Studies (2014).

    "Even if it’s not True it’s True: Using Unreliable Hadiths in Sunni Islam." Islamic Law and Society 18 (2011): 1-52.

    "The Canonization of Ibn Majah: Authenticity vs. Utility in the Formation of the Sunni Hadith Canon." Revue des Mondes Musalmans et de la Medeterranee 129 (2011): 171-83.

    "Did the Prophet Say It or Not?: the Literal, Historical and Effective Truth of Hadiths in Sunni Islam". Journal of the American Oriental Society 129.2 (2009): 259-85.

    "How We Know early Hadith Critics Did Matn Criticism and Why It's So Hard to Find" (PDF). Islamic Law and Society (15): 143–84. 2008.

    “New Data on the Delateralization of Dad and its Merger with Za’ in Classical Arabic: Contributions from Old South Arabian and the Earliest Islamic Texts on D / Z Minimal Pairs,” Journal of Semitic Studies 52, no.2 (2007): 335-368.

    "The Last Days of al-Ghazzali and the Tripartite Division of Sufi World: Abu Hamid al-Ghazali's Letter to the Seljuq Vizier and Commentary." The Muslim World 96, no. 1 (2006): 89-113.

    "Criticism of the Proto-Hadith Canon: al-Daraqutni's Adjustment of al-Bukhari and Muslim's Sahihs." Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies 15/1 (2004): 1-37.

    Social Context of Pre-Islamic Poetry[dead link]: Poetic Imagery and Social Reality in the Mu'allaqat." Arab Studies Quarterly 25/3 (2003): 29-50.

Book Reviews

    "Review of The Encyclopedia of Canonical Hadith," Journal of Islamic Studies 19, n. 3 (2008): 391-97.


"Islam and hadith: Sifting and combing". The Economist. 2014-10-28. Retrieved 2015-04-19.

Ahsen Utku (2010-08-18). "Jonathan Brown on Being Inspired by Prophet Muhammad". Retrieved 8 October 2013.

"Islam and hadiths: Sifting and combing". The Economist. 28 Oct 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014.

Review by Karen Armstrong :

Review by Michael Muhammad Knight:

Review by Mona Siddiqui :