About Me

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I am a PhD candidate in Islamic history and thought in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. My primary interests are in Islamic jurisprudence and Ottoman history, and my secondary interests largely grow out of them. My dissertation, titled Revaluing the Price of Blood, looks through the lens of homicide in late sixteenth-century Istanbul to examine how Ottoman jurists received and applied Islamic jurisprudence within the framework of the Ottoman legal system. It aims to further improve scholarly understanding of how institutions of law and government worked on the ground in early modern Islamicate societies, as well as how those institutions eventually developed into those of modern Middle East states. I expect to defend my dissertation in spring 2019. During the 2017–18 academic year, I was a residential research fellow in the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School. Please read on for a summary of my educational and scholarly profile, or see the sidebar to the right (or below on a mobile device) for a quick look and a link to my CV page.

My life and formal education have deep roots in Chicago. I hail from the city’s suburbs, and I received my BA in economics at Northwestern University in 2005. Before beginning graduate school, I attended the Institute of Islamic Education, a Muslim seminary in Chicagoland, from which I graduated in 2011 with an ʿAlimiyya degree. Along the way, I spent short but intellectually formative periods of time for research and study in Turkey, Egypt, and South Africa. My seminary degree entailed intensive textual training, particularly in Quranic memorization and recitation, Arabic language and literature, and medieval classics of Islamic law and theology.

At the University of Chicago, I put my primary training in medieval Islamic thought into an MA thesis on change and continuity in early Hanafi jurisprudence. Simultaneously, I took a steady stream of courses with UChicago’s first-class faculty in Ottoman and Turkish studies and gradually discovered new intellectual passions in Ottoman and early modern history. My coursework and research have been supported by a number of fellowships, including the Foreign Language and Area Studies Program and the American Research Institute in Turkey and grants from the University of Chicago for research and conference travel. To enhance my academic legal training and enable my work to speak to a wider audience of legal scholars, I gained admission to the Master of Legal Studies program at the University of Chicago Law School, which I completed in 2017.

I have presented my work at conferences and workshops in Middle East studies, Ottoman studies, and legal history. My publications so far include a co-authored chapter in The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law (Oxford University Press, 2018) and a chapter in the forthcoming Rethinking Late Ottoman Civilisation (Edinburgh University Press). In 2017–18, with the generous support of the Kamel Center at Yale Law School, I was able to continue dissertation research and writing and prepare peer-reviewed publications for submission.

I am trained to teach a variety of subjects related to Islam and the Middle East. My strength is in Islamic law, which I have taught at the introductory level to undergraduate, graduate, and law students as a lecturer at the University of Chicago and as an invited speaker at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. I have prepared more advanced courses in Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic political thought that combine primary texts with secondary scholarship. Beyond legal studies, I have assisted in teaching UChicago's survey in Islamic history and society and advanced Arabic syntax. I have also developed survey courses of my own in Islamic civilization, Ottoman history, and Muslim-Christian relations in the early modern Mediterranean, any of which can be tailored according to the needs and objectives of the class.

In my nonacademic life, I am an avid baseball fan, and I enjoy reading about baseball history (almost) as much as Islamic history. I am a fan of the no-longer-suffering Chicago Cubs, and having attended the University of Chicago (i.e., White Sox territory) has done nothing to change that. We look forward to another championship year soon. My other hobbies include woodworking (when I can find a shop) and writing notes and letters by hand with my humble collection of fountain pens. I currently reside in Chicago with my wife, who also happens to be my favorite travel companion.