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Andrew Magnusson

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Islamic History

Ph.D. 2014
B.A., Brigham Young University; M.A., UC Santa Barbara

Advisor: Stephen Humphreys

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My dissertation examines Muslim-Zoroastrian relations in Iran between the seventh and eleventh centuries A.D. It challenges the lachrymose narrative which attributes the relative decline of Zoroastrianism to sectarian violence. I first consider the practical implications of the Zoroastrians’ ambiguous status under Islamic law as well as a charter of religious freedom ('ahd-nama) supposedly granted to Salman al-Farisi by the Prophet Muhammad. Then, incorporating insights from South Asian Studies, I reassess the significance of religious violence between Muslims and Zoroastrians, including fire temple desecration, the flight of the Parsis to India, and the destruction of the sacred Cypress of Zoroaster. I conclude by analyzing rhetorical uses of the term "Zoroastrians" in Muslim discourse from Spain to India.

Dissertation Title

  • Muslim-Zoroastrian Relations and Religious Violence in Early Islamic Discourse, 600-1100

Teaching Fields

  • Early Islamic History
  • Modern Middle East
  • Medieval Mediterranean
  • Religious Studies

Teaching Assistantships

  • HIST 2C--World History 1700CE-Present
    Paul Spickard and Randy Bergstrom, Spring 2011 and 2012
  • HIST 46--Middle Eastern History
    Sherry Vatter and Beth Brownson, Fall 2010 and Winter 2012
  • Model Arab League (Lebanon/Sudan/Saudi Arabia)
    Advisor, Winter 2010-2012
  • HIST 2A--World History Prehistory-1000CE
    Tony Barbieri-Low, Fall 2011
  • HIST 2B--World History 1000-1700CE
    Luke Roberts, Winter 2009
  • MES 45--Introduction to Middle East Studies
    Garay Menicucci, Fall 2008


  • "Ethnic and Religious Minorities"
    in The Cambridge Companion to Modern Arab Culture (forthcoming)
  • "On the Origins of the Prophet Muhammad's Charter to the Family of Salman al-Farisi"
    ARAM Periodical 27 (forthcoming)
  • "Satanic Verses? An Analysis of the Explanations for the Return of the Muslim Community from Abyssinia"
    Thetean: A Student Journal for Scholarly Historical Writing 36 (2007): 1-18.


  • Pre-doctoral Fellowship (2014)
    UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center
  • Department Dissertation Fellowship (2012-2013)
    UCSB History Department
  • Outstanding TA (2011)
    UCSB Residence Halls Association
  • Critical Language Scholarship--Arabic/Morocco (2010)
    U.S. State Department
  • Stephen and Eloise Hay Award in Islamic History (2010)
    UCSB History Associates

Conference Presentations