Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten



Dr. Teresa Bernheimer

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin (Judaistik)


Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten
Veterinärstr. 1
D-80539 München

Telefon: +49-89-2180-1878

My main area of research is the history of Islam from 600-1200 in the central and Eastern Islamic lands, in particular the formation and contextualization of Islam in Late Antiquity and beyond.

I have worked on the early history of SHIʿISM and the emergence of Islamic elites, in particularly the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad called the ʿALIDS. From 2018-2022 I held a Gerda-Henkel-Fellowship to examine the history and role of the infamous KHARIJITES (Arabic: khawārij, ‘those who go out’), a blanket term to describe groups of early Muslim extremists who were neither Sunni nor Shiʿi. By including the much-neglected material evidence and broadening the conceptual perspective, I reexamine how and why vastly different revolts were labelled ‘Kharijites’ in the sources, and what these ‘Kharijites’ contributed to the formation of Islam.

More recently I have become fascinated with notions of COLOUR IN ISLAM. In October 2021 I organized together with Prof Eva-Maria Troelenberg the workshop “Colour in Islam: Understanding Textual and Visual Historiographies of Colour in Inter-Disciplinary Perspective” (, with the aim of starting a conversation on the study of colour in Islamic history, arts and cultures.

In the next few years, I am excited to spend more time exploring ideas, meanings, terminologies and theories of colour in early Islam. In March 2022 I joined the collaborative research group Jenseits von Konflikt und Koexistenz. Eine Verflechtungsgeschichte der jüdisch-arabischen Beziehungen/Beyond Conflict and Coexistence. The Entangled History of Jewish-Arab Relations, funded by the BMFB. In my project Farbbezeichnungen in Judentum und Islam 600-1200/Colour Terms in Judaism and Islam 600-1200 I hope to shed light on the intertwining histories of colour in the Near East of Late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages, on the basis of a broad examination of sources, including religious commentaries, historiography, and scientific works. I am starting with an examination of the rainbow: As the symbol of the renewed contract of God and Noah (Genesis 9,12-16), the rainbow plays a central role in the colour narratives of both Judaism and Islam. But what colour is the rainbow? How where the colours perceived, named, translated, and explained as terms and ideas moved through Greek, Hebrew, Syriac or Arabic speaking cultures?

Teresa Bernheimer is member of the Munich Research Center for Jewish-Arabic Cultures. For further information consult the profile on the website.