Faculty Profile: Samy Ayoub
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Samy Ayoub specializes in Islamic law, modern Middle East law, and law and religion in contemporary Muslim societies. He focuses on issues concerning the interaction between religion and law, and the role of religion in contemporary legal and socio-political systems within a global comparative perspective. He has pursued training in both law and Islamic Studies in Egypt, Scotland, and in the United States. Dr. Ayoub was selected as a Fellow at the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World at Harvard Law School (Fall 2021). He was also selected as a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (2018-2019). He served as the President of the Islamic Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) for 2018-2019, and he is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Law in the Middle East by LexisNexis and Arab Law Quarterly. Before joining the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Ayoub was a postdoctoral faculty fellow (2014-2015) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was nominated by the student body to the Margaret T. Getman Service to Students Award.
Dr. Ayoub’s book, Law, Empire, and the Sultan: Ottoman Imperial Authority and Late Ḥanafī Jurisprudence (Oxford University Press, 2020), is based on his dissertation which won the 2015 Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award. This book investigates authoritative Ḥanafī legal works from the Ottoman world of the 16th – 19th centuries CE, casting new light on the understudied late Ḥanafī jurists (al-mutaʾakhkhirūn). In particular, Dr. Ayoub interrogates the process by which the Ḥanafī legal tradition incorporated Ottoman sultanic authority in the process of lawmaking. This book has been translated into Arabic as الفقه والدولة و السلطان.
Dr. Ayoub’s second book project, Erasure: Law and Legal Modernity in Colonial Egypt, 1800-1950 (Under Contract, OUP, 2025) is a study of state regulation of legal practice in Egypt from 1800-1950. It offers a comparative analysis of the Egyptian government ordinances of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic legal norms during this period. Relying on––among similar texts––the al-Aḥkām al-Sharʿiyya fī al-Aḥwāl al-Shakhṣiyya lil-Isra'īliyyīn (Legal Rules of Jewish Family Law), published in Arabic in Egypt 1912, this project examines the origins of religious courts as domains of family law. Using the concept of judicial specification (takhṣīṣ al-qaḍāʾ), an authority granted to the Muslim ruler to (re)-organize the judiciary, the Egyptian government adapted the function of Islamic courts to follow that of the Jewish and Christian courts, restricting the former’s scope to the domain of personal status law. One of the objectives of this project is to demonstrate the centrality of the institutional apparatus––the Ministry of Justice, provincial Islamic courts, al-Azhar, Jewish and Christian religious courts, and Supreme Islamic Court––in fostering any practical relevance of Islamic law as a justice system before it was swallowed by secular National Courts in 1955.
Dr. Ayoub earned his PhD in Islamic law from the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies and the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. He earned a BA in Islamic jurisprudence from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, in 2006, where he received systematic instruction in Ḥanafī jurisprudence. He also received an MSc. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, UK, in 2008.
Teaching Areas: Islamic Law, Islamic Legal Theory, Islamic Ethics, Islam and Politics, Comparative Middle Eastern Law, Islamic Commercial Law, Late Ottoman Empire, Modern Egypt
Courses Recently Taught
Islamic Law and Political Violence
Islamic Law and Society
Comparative Middle Eastern Law
Rule of Law in Muslim Societies
Arabic Readings in Islamic Texts
Modern Islamic Political Thought
Late Ottoman State & Society
Law, Empire, and the Sultan: Ottoman Imperial Authority and Late Ḥanafī Jurisprudence
(Oxford University Press, 2020)
Islamic Law and Empire. (2018) Leiden: Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (Special issue, Vol. 19).
“Casting off Egyptian Hanafism: Sharīʿa, Divorce, and Legal Reform in 20th Century Egypt.” Die Welt des Islams (spring, 2020).
“Ottoman Soldiers in the Arabian Peninsula: Fighting Armed Rebellion in the Sacred Mosque of Mecca in the 17th Century” Turkish Historical Review 9 (2018): 18-38.
“The Sulṭān Says: State Authority in The Late Ḥanafī Tradition.” Islamic Law and Society 23 (2016) 239-278.
“The Mecelle: Sharīʿa, and Ottoman State: Fashioning and Refashioning of Islamic Law in the 19th – 20th Century CE.” The Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 2:1 (2015): 121-146.
“Fear of Sharia: Harvard project aims to shed light on Islamic law,” Middle East Eye, May 4, 2017.
“Late Hanafi Law in the Ottoman Empire,” Ottoman History Podcast, November 24, 2015.