Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim

Assistant Professor 

I am an assistant professor of Islamic law at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies in Montreal, Canada. I hold a BA from al-Azhar University, an MA from the American University in Cairo, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Georgetown University (2011). In 2011–12, I 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. My teaching and research interests include the formation of Islamic law, legal theory, Islamic legal practice in Mamluk and Ottoman courts, Islamic law and human rights, customary law, and family law. I have recently completed a study on the theory and practice of child custody, in which I examined the role social perceptions of the family and the child’s best interests influenced judicial practice in early modern Ottoman Egypt. I am currently working on two projects entitled, “Judicial Custom in Islamic Law,” and “Child Adoption in Early Modern Egypt.” My last two projects have been supported with research grants 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

My research interests cover juristic discourse and court practice in both the formative period of Islamic law and the post-classical Mamluk and Ottoman periods.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - 2017-2022.

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)

Research Books

Child Custody in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice in Egypt since the Sixteenth Century

Pragmatism in Islamic Law, paperback edition (2017).

Pragmatism in Islamic Law: A Social and Intellectual History (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press), 363 pp (2015).


Guy Burak, Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, Vol. 2.2 (2015): 427-429.

Justin Parrott, Middle East Librarians Association (October, 2016)

Joseph Lowry, SCTIW Review (February, 2017)


Aquil, Rajaa; Dhahir, Sanna; Ibrahim, Ahmed Fekry. The Ultimate Arabic Beginner (New York: Random House) (2004).

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


Refereed Articles

"Customary Practices as Exigencies in Islamic Law Between a Source of Law and a Legal Maxim"

“Rethinking the Taqlīd Hegemony: An Institutional, Longue Durée Approach,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 136:4 (2016).

“Rethinking the Taqlīd-Ijtihād Dichotomy: A Conceptual-Historical Approach,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 136:2 (2016): 285-305.

“The Best Interests of the Child in Premodern Islamic Juristic Discourse and Practice,” American Journal of Comparative Law 63 (2015): 859-891. 

“The Codification Episteme in Islamic Juristic Discourse between Inertia and Change,” Islamic Law and Society 22:3 (2015): 157-220 (64 pp). 

“Jamāl al-Bannā’s New Jurisprudence and Post-Mubarak Egypt,” Encounters 6 (2015): 219-251.

“Al-Shaʿrānī’s Response to Legal Purism: A Theory of Legal Pluralism,” Islamic Law and Society  20:1-2 (2013): 110-140.

Talfīq 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 Entry

“Takhayyur, Talfīq,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islamic Law (2013).


Book Reviews

Review of Islamic Law in Theory: Studies on Jurisprudence in Honor of Bernard Weiss by A. Kevin Reinhart and Robert Gleave

Review of Kevin Reinhart and Robert Gleave, “Islamic Law in Theory,” Journal of the American Oriental Society (forthcoming, 2017).

Review of Guy Burak “The Second Formation of Islamic Law,” Islamic Law and Society 23 (2016): 165-160.

Review of Timur Kuran, “The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East,” New Middle East Studies Journal (2011).  



Work in Progress

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


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.

Graduate Courses

ISLA 581: Islamic Law and Human Rights
ISLA 670: Islamic Law
ISLA 716: Islamic Legal Discourse
ISLA 707: Qur’anic Exegesis

Undergraduate Courses

ISLA 200: Islamic Civilization
ISLA 370: The Qur’an: History and Interpretation
ISLA 383: Central Questions in Islamic Law
ISLA 501: The Qur’an, Text, and History
ISLA 505: Islam, Origins and Early Development


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