Ahmad Atif Ahmad

Ph.D., Harvard University
HSSB 3032


I have been in love with law and legal epistemology for a long time. The questions of what law is, what it is for, where its legitimacy comes from, how it could be known, and how it evolves over time are exciting to me in their universal form. 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, since the establishment of the Egyptian 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.


[wpic visible=”3″]Cover image of Islamic Law: Cases, Authorities, and Worldview/!Cover image of Pitfalls of Scholarship/!Ahmad Atif Ahmad's book, "The Fatigue of the Shari'a/!Islam Modernity Violence and Islamic Law book cover/!Structural Interrelations of Theory and Practice in Islamic Law book cover[/wpic]


  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).
  2. 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:


  • Sharia and Nations
  • Research and Method in Islamic Studies
  • Islamic Political Philosophy
  • Apostasy and Heresy in Islam
  • Fatawa Literature
  • 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 Women
  • RS119E: Islam and Government
  • RS2: Islam and the West 700-1850
  • RS6: Islam and Modernity


Do you read Arabic? 1 2 3 4