Department of Middle Eastern South Asian and African Studies
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