Emily Silkaitis


Emily Silkaitis is a sixth-year PhD candidate in the Islamic Studies subfield. She specializes in the early history of Islam, with focus on Islamic thought, cultural history, and Qur’anic exegesis. Her research explores the earliest Muslim understandings of suicide, what it means to ‘kill oneself’ (qatl al-nafs), and why early Islamic thinkers saw this as a “bad” thing that needed to be outlawed. Using a wide range of early Islamic literary sources alongside normative texts, Silkaitis’ dissertation attempts a comprehensive study of suicide in Islam (both in theory and in practice) from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the end of the sixth/twelfth century.

Silkaitis is the recipient of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Graduate Prize Fellowship from the University Center for Human Values. Her research has also been supported by the Religion and Culture Fellowship from the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship.
Her first article, “Suicide: A Study of the Tafsir,” is forthcoming in Der Islam in 2022.