He dates his interest in Islamic studies to two formative high school years spent in Ankara Turkey. He subsequently obtained a BA in Arabic and Middle East Studies from the University of Texas in Austin, and an MA and PhD from Harvard University, Committee on the Study of Religion (Islam). His dissertation, on a topic in Uṣūl al-Fiqh, was published as *Before Revelation: The Boundaries of Muslim Moral Knowledge.* He has continued to write on Islamic ethics and ritual, as well as late Ottoman intellectual history. He has lived in or visited most Muslim-majority countries.