Faculty

Najam Haider, an  Associate Professor in the Department of Religion, completed his PhD at Princeton University (2007), M.Phil. at Oxford University (2000), and BA at Dartmouth College (1997).  His courses bridge the gap between the classical and modern Muslim worlds with a particular emphasis on the impact of colonization on Islamic political and religious discourse.  Prof. Haider’s research interests include early Islamic history, the methodology and development of Islamic law, and Shi‘ism.  His first book entitled The Origins of the Shi‘a was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and focused on the role of ritual and sacred space in the formation of Shi‘i identity.  His second book (Shi‘i Islam – Cambridge 2014) offered a comprehensive overview of three branches of Shi‘i Islam – Zaydī, Twelver, and Isma'ili – through a framework of theology and memory.  His current project focuses on the link between early Islamic historical writing and Late Antique and Classical Rhetoric.


Wael B. Hallaq is a scholar of Islamic law and Islamic intellectual history. His teaching and research deal with the problematic epistemic ruptures generated by the onset of modernity and the socio-politico-historical forces subsumed by it; with the intellectual history of Orientalism and the repercussions of Orientalist paradigms in later scholarship and in Islamic legal studies as a whole; and with the synchronic and diachronic development of Islamic traditions of logic, legal theory, and substantive law and the interdependent systems within these traditions.

Hallaq’s writings have explored the structural dynamics of legal change in pre-modern law, and have recently been examining the centrality of moral theory to understanding the history of Islamic law and modern political movements. He is the author of more than sixty scholarly articles, and his books include Ibn Taymiyya Against the Greek Logicians (Oxford, 1993); A History of Islamic Legal Theories: An Introduction to Sunni Usul al-fiqh (Cambridge, 1997); Authority, Continuity and Change in Islamic Law (Cambridge, 2001); Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law (Cambridge, 2005); and An Introduction to Islamic Law (Cambridge, 2009). His Shari‘a: Theory, Practice, Transformations (Cambridge, 2009) examines the doctrines and practices of Islamic law within the context of its history, from its beginnings in seventh-century Arabia, down to the present. His latest work, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament (Columbia University Press, 2013), has won Columbia University Press’s Distinguished Book Award for 2013-2015. Hallaq’s work has been widely debated and translated into Arabic, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Persian, and Turkish, among others.


Brinkley Messick specializes in the anthropology of law, legal history, written culture, and the circulation and interpretation of Islamic legal texts.  He is the author of The Calligraphic State (1993), which was awarded the Albert Hourani Prize of the Middle Eastern Studies Association, and co-editor of Islamic Legal Interpretation (1996). His recently published book is Shariʿa Scripts: A Historical Anthropology (2018). Among his scholarly articles are “Indexing the Self: Expression and Intent in Islamic Legal Acts,” Islamic Law & Society (2001); “Written Identities: Legal Subjects in an Islamic State,” History of Religions (1998);  “Genealogies of Reading and the Scholarly Cultures of Islam,” in S. Humphreys, ed. Cultures of Scholarship (1997); and “Textual Properties: Writing and Wealth in a Yemeni Shari a Case,” Anthropology Quarterly (1995).

He teaches courses on Islamic law; Islam and theory; and Written Culture. In 2009 he received the Outstanding Senior Scholar Award from the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association.