Zacky Umam is a PhD candidate in Islamic History at the Berlin Graduate School for Muslim Cultures and Societies of Freie Universitaet Berlin. Since 2012, after completing degrees in modern Middle Eastern Studies, he has studied premodern Islamic History and Thought in Istanbul, where he read Ottoman culture, and Berlin, where he defended a thesis on the comparative thought between Islamic and Jewish thinkers. His current research revolves around the intersection between intellectual history and book culture in seventeenth-century Arabian Peninsula. In addition to academia, he publishes popular essays on culture in major Indonesian newspapers.
Zacky Umam’s current research has centered on the intellectual life of the Kurdish Ibrahim al-Kurani (d. 1690). In the Islamic world, the critical edition of Kurani’s works, compared with the oeuvres of prominent early modern figures, is inappropriately limited. Although his writings are thoroughly composed in Arabic and his past subjectivity blurred within Islamic cosmopolitanism in Medina where he forged his careers for forty years, his identity as a Kurdish progeny has no places in the historiography and philology of modern Islamic nation-states. The lack of Kurdish sovereignty/state in our time partly affects the absence of historical awareness to cultivate the millennial heritage of Kurdish Muslim intellectuals. Despite this fact, Kurani’s personae can be explicated within an entangled history crossing boundaries. Zacky aims to fill the dearth of information on how the production of knowledge took place in Medina and why Kurani, his texts/ideas, and his global nexus significantly formed the republic of letters in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of the Islamic world.