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Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim

Assistant Professor 

Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim is assistant professor of Islamic law at the McGill Institute of Islamic Studies in Montreal. He holds a BA from al-Azhar University and an MA degree from the American University in Cairo. He completed his PhD in Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in 2011. In 2011–12, he received a EUME postdoctoral fellowship from the Berlin research program “Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe,” organized by Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. His teaching and research interests include the formation of Islamic law, Islamic legal practice in Ottoman courts, Islamic law and human rights, Islamic law from below, and the impact of socioeconomic and cultural changes on juristic discourse and court practice. His Pragmatism in Islamic Law: A Social and Intellectual History (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2015) traces the pragmatic utilization of Sunni legal pluralism in modern Muslim nation state legislation to developments that took place in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods both in court practice and juristic discourse. He is currently working on two monograph-length studies of custody in Islamic law and Islamic legal hermeneutics. These projects are supported with two three-year research grants (2014–17) from the Fonds de recherche du Quebec—Societe et Culture (FRQSC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Research and Grants

Awards and Grants

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)- 2014-2017.

Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et Culture (FRQSC) the Government of Québec, 2014-2017.

Summer Research Fellowship, the Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Society, the Free University, Berlin, 2014.

EUME postdoctoral fellowship 2011/2012, a one-year research postdoc at the Berlin research program entitled “Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe,” and organized by Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. 

Teaching Fellowship, School of Foreign Service in Qatar: Georgetown University (2010 – 2011)

Dissertation Research Fellowship, American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) (2009 – 2010)

Language Scholarship, Foreign Language and Area Study (FLAS), Persian language (Summer 2006)

Graduate Fellowship, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University (2004 – 2010)

Graduate Fellowship, American University in Cairo (2001 – 2004)

Valedictorian, Al-Azhar University, Egypt (1999)

Valedictorian, Al-Azhar High School, Egypt (1994)



"Pragmatism in Islamic Law: A Social and Intellectual History" (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2015).


Peer-Reviewed Articles

“The Codification Episteme in Islamic Juristic Discourse between Inertia and Change,” Islamic Law and Society 22 (2015): 1–64.

“Jamāl al-Bannā’s New Jurisprudence and Post-Mubarak Egypt,” Encounters, forthcoming, 2015.

“Al-Shaʿrānī’s Response to Legal Purism: A Theory of Legal Pluralism,” Islamic Law and Society 20:1–2 (2013): 110–40.

“Talfiq in Islamic Juristic Discourse and Ottoman Courts in the Seventeenth Century,” Al-Ruznameh: The Egyptian Documentary Annals, Periodical of Documentary and Archival Studies 7 (2010): 78-100.


Encyclopedia Articles

"Talfīq/Takhayyur." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law, 2013.


Book Reviews

The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East by Timur Kuran, New Middle East Studies Journal, 2011.  


Other Publications

“Legal Utilitarianism and Deontologism in Ottoman Egypt: Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Legal Practice,” ARCE Bulletin, November 2010.

"The Ultimate Arabic Beginner" (with Aquil, Rajaa and Dhahir, Sanna), New York: Random House, 2004. 

Translator of The Road to al-Qaeda: The Story of Bin Laden’s Right-Hand Man by Montasser al-Zayyat, London: Pluto Press, 2004.


Work in Progress

Book project entitled: “Child Custody in Islamic law.”


Conference Papers and Panel Discussions

“The Question of Islam and Islams,” a panel discussion at the Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Society, the Free University, Berlin, July 24, 2013.

“Pragmatic Eclecticism in Premodern Islamic Law: From Mukhtaṣar to Ikhtilāf Manuals,” panelist at the American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, November 9, 2013, Miami, Florida.

“Perspectives on Islam: Islamic Legal Discourse after the Arab Spring,” The Political Impact of Religious Activism Conference, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, June 22, 2012.

“School Boundary-Crossing in Sunni Islamic law: The Practice of Talfīq and Tatabbuʿ al-Rukhaṣ in 17th and 18th-Century Egyptian Courts,” Institut für Islamwissenschaft, Berlin, May 9, 2012.

“Islamic Legal Pluralism: A Diachronic Study of Juristic Attitudes, the Practice of Legists and Lay Egyptians,” EUME presentation, Berlin, March 28, 2012.

“Islamic Legal Reform and Sunni Pluralism between Tradition, Salafism and Modernism: The Case of Egypt from the 19th-Century until the Contemporary Period,” Berliner Seminar, February 8, 2012.

“Social Protest and Social Movements in Egypt before the Revolution,” Berliner Seminar, January 25, 2012.

“Bridging School Boundaries in Sunni Islamic Law: The Pragmatic Choice of Forum in Theory and Practice,” Georgetown-Qatar CULP Faculty Seminar, April 21, 2011.

“Transition and Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa: A Teach-in on Regional and Global Implications of Contemporary Events,” a teach-in organized by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton, Ohio, March 23, 2011.

“A Thousand and One Cases: Legal Pluralism and Talfīq in 18th-Century Egyptian Courts,” MESA Annual Meeting, San Diego, November 21, 2010.

“The Egyptian National Archives: Recent Changes and Future Directions,” MESA Annual Meeting, San Diego, November 20, 2010.

“Utility and Legal Pluralism in Late Ottoman Cairo Courts,” the American Research Center in Egypt, April 7, 2010.

“School Boundaries and Social Utility in Islamic Law: Talfīq and Tatabu‘ al-Rukhaṣ in Theory and Practice,” Annual History Seminar, the American University in Cairo, March 18 – 20, 2010.

“Jamāl al-Bannā's New Jurisprudence: A Utilitarianist or Liberalist Approach to Legal Reform?” MESA Annual Meeting, Washington DC, November 22, 2008.

“Areas of Negative Transfer in Argumentative English-Arabic Rhetoric,” APETAU Second International Conference, Amman: University of Jordan, 2003.

Courses and Supervision

Graduate Teaching

I am currently the supervisor for four PhD candidates and one MA student working on various aspects of Islamic law. Since arriving at McGill, I have acted as a PhD oral defense examiner or committee member for five PhD candidates. 

I have taught the following courses at McGill:
ISLA 716: Islamic Legal Discourse
ISLA 670: Islamic Law
ISLA 501: The Qur'an, Text and History


Undergraduate Teaching

ISLA 383: Central Questions in Islamic Law
ISLA 370: The Qur’an: History and Interpretation