PhD, Islamic Studies

Fellow, Program in Islamic Law • Harvard Law School

Mariam Sheibani, PhD


Dr. Mariam Sheibani is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Law School's Program in Islamic Law and Lecturer at Harvard University.

Her research interests are in Islamic intellectual and social history, with a focus on law, ethics, gender, and contemporary Islamic thought. In 2019-2020, she is teaching two graduate seminars cross-listed at the Harvard Divinity School and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences: Islamic Ethics: Between Reason, Revelation, and Reform (Fall 2019) and The Thought and Legacy of al-Ghazālī (Spring 2020).

Her first book project, Islamic Legal Philosophy: Ibn ʿAbd al-Salām and the Ethical Turn in Medieval Islamic Law, examines how Muslim jurists from the eleventh to fourteenth centuries addressed salient questions of legal philosophy and ethics, leading them to develop competing legal methodologies and visions of the law. In particular, she traces the development of a purposive, analytical, and socially responsive legal discourse that originated among Shāfiʿī jurists in Khorasan and continued to evolve in Ayyubid Damascus and Mamluk Cairo in subsequent centuries. The study centers on a prominent Damascene heir of Khorasani Shāfiʿism, ʿIzz al-Dīn b. ʿAbd al-Salām, a pivotal figure in the development of Islamic legal philosophy, ethics, and legal maxims (qawāʿid fiqhiyya). Learn more about the book project and other current research projects. 

She received her PhD in Islamic Thought from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Prior to her doctoral studies, she earned a BA in Public Affairs and Policy Management, an MA in Legal Studies, and a second an MA in Islamic Thought. She has conducted research in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, the UK, and West Africa. In addition to her academic research, she serves as Lead Blog Editor for the Islamic Law Blog (formerly ShariaSource) and Forum Editor for the Harvard Journal in Islamic Law, based at Harvard Law School.


Upcoming Presentations

november 14–17, 2019

Innovation, Borrowing, and the ‘Anxiety of Influence’ in Mamluk Legal Thought: The Case of Ibn ʿAbd al-Salam and al-Qarafi’s Canon Collections
Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting  • New Orleans, LA

november 21–24, 2019

Judicial Misconduct and the Critique of Adjudication in Medieval Cairo: The Case of the Orphan and Her Cunning Ward
American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting • Boston, MA

DECEMBER 2-3, 2019

Legal Canons and the Evolution of Islamic Legal Philosophy
Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies • Exeter, UK


Knowledge will not give part of itself to you until you give your all to it. When you give your all to it, then you stand a chance. But even then you cannot be sure that it will give you that part.
— al-Naẓẓām (d. c. 845), as quoted by al-Jāḥiz (d. 868)