Sachiko Murata completed her BA in family law at Chiba University in Japan, worked for a year in a law firm in Tokyo, and then went to Iran to study Islamic law. She completed a Ph.D. in Persian literature at Tehran University in 1971, and then transferred to the faculty of theology, where she was the first woman and the first non-Muslim to be enrolled. She finished her MA in Islamic jurisprudence in 1975, and then became a research associate at the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy. Her work on a PhD dissertation in comparative law was cut short by the revolution. Since 1983 she has taught religious studies at Stony Brook University, New York.
Murata has been director of Japanese Studies since its founding in 1990 and regularly teaches Introduction to Japanese Studies, Japanese Buddhism, Feminine Spirituality in World Religions, and occasionally other courses such as Islam or Islam and Confucianism. For the past few years her research has focused on the writings of the Hui-ju or “Muslim Confucianists,” who wrote books on Islamic theology, cosmology, and spiritual psychology in the Chinese language while borrowing the terminology of the Neo-Confucian philosophers.
Besides many scholarly articles, Murata has published, among others, Isuramu Hôriron Josetsu (Iwanami, 1985), the translation of a major text on the principles of Islamic jurisprudence from Arabic into Japanese; The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought (SUNY Press, 1992); and Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light: Wang Tai-yü’s Great Learning of the Pure and Real and Liu Chih’s Displaying the Concealment of the Real Realm (SUNY Press, 2000).