Ahmad Atif Ahmad

Professor of Religious Studies
Area: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Islamic Studies

Ph.D., Harvard University

Office: HSSB 3032

I have been in love with law and legal epistemology for a long time.  The questions of what law is for, where its legitimacy comes from, how it could be known, and how it evolves over time are exciting to me in their general form.  But in my research and teaching, I focus on medieval Islamic law and modern Egyptian law.  Law and religion in the Islamic tradition are hard to separate.  And in 130 years of modern Egyptian law (counting from the establishment of the National Courts in 1883), the government has not shied away in its legal activities from establishing religion.  Being in this department has exposed me to an array of views on the intersections among law, philosophy, and social knowledge, which does not allow my excitement to run out.


1) The Fatigue of the Shari’a, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2012.
2) Islam, Modernity, Violence, and Everyday Life, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009.
3) Structural Interrelations of Theory and Practice in Islamic Law: A Study of Six Works of Islamic Jurisprudence, Brill, Leiden, 2006.
4) Isti’naf al-Ahkam al-Qada’iyya wa Naqduha fi al-Tashri’ al-Islami ma’a al-Muqarana bi al-Tashri’at al-Wad’iyya (Review of Court Decisions in Islamic Law, compared to Modern Appellate Systems), Cairo, Egypt, 1998.

Selected Articles, Reviews & Entries

1) “Consensual Divorce in Islamic Law”; “Review of Court Decisions in Islamic Law”; “Lawyers in Islamic Law”; “Ibn ‘Abidin of Damascus,” Oxford Encyclopedia of Legal History (General Ed. Stanley Katz (Princeton University); Area Ed. (Islamic law): Baber Johansen (Harvard University), Oxford University Press (2009).
 Review of “Authority, Conflict, and the Transmission of Diversity in Medieval Islamic Law” by R. Kevin Jaques, Journal of Islamic Studies (Ed. Farhan Ahmad Nizami, Oxford Center for Islamic Studies), Oxford University Press, Volume 18, Number 2, May 2007, pp 246-248.
3) “Ghazali’s (d. 505/1111) Contribution to the Sunni Juristic Discourses on Apostasy,” Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies (Ed. Joseph Norment Bell (University of Bergen, Norway) and Alex Metclafe (Lancaster University, UK)), University of Edinburgh Press, Volume VII, 2007, pp 50-73.
4) “Chinese Muslims in Taipei, Nanjing, and Shanghai,” Macalester International (Ed. Ahmed I. Samatar and Margaret Beegle), Institute of Global Citizenship, World Press, Saint Paul, MN, Volume 18 (Chinese Worlds: Multiple Temporalities and Transformations), Spring 2007, pp 175-183.
5) “The Evolution of Just War Theory in Islamic Law: Texts, History and the Purpose of Reading,” American Foreign Policy Interests, (Ed. George D. Schwab and Edwina McMahon), the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, Rutledge, Volume 28, Number 2, April 2006, pp 107-115.

Courses Taught

  • RS 281: Islamic Political Philosophy
  • RS 283: Research and Method in Islamic Studies
  • RS 287: Apostasy and Heresy in Islam
  • RS 292A: Fatawa Literature
  • RS 292TH: Readings in Tafsir and Hadith
  • RS119A: Introduction to Islamic Law
  • RS119B: The Qur’an and its Interpretations
  • RS119C: Jihad and Just War Theory
  • RS119D: Islam and Government
  • RS119E: Islam and Women
  • RS2: Islam and the West 700-1850
  • RS6: Islam and Modernity