professor Nakissa

Aria Nakissa

​Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and Anthropology
PhD, Harvard University
JD, Harvard Law School
research interests:
  • Law
  • Anthropology
  • Religion
  • Islamic Legal Theory
  • Human Rights
  • Middle East
  • Southeast Asia
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1121
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899
image of book cover

​Aria Nakissa's research and teaching interests include Islamic law and philosophy, contemporary Muslim societies, and classical Islamic texts (Fiqh, Tafsir, Hadith, Tasawwuf).

The Anthropology of Islamic Law: Education, Ethics, and Legal Interpretation at Egypt's Al-Azhar

The Anthropology of Islamic Law: Education, Ethics, and Legal Interpretation at Egypt's Al-Azhar

The Anthropology of Islamic Law shows how hermeneutic theory and practice theory can be brought together to analyze cultural, legal, and religious traditions. These ideas are developed through an analysis of the Islamic legal tradition, which examines both Islamic legal doctrine and religious education. The book combines anthropology and Islamist history, using ethnography and in-depth analysis of Arabic religious texts. The book focuses on higher religious learning in contemporary Egypt, examining its intellectual, ethical, and pedagogical dimensions. Data is drawn from fieldwork inside al-Azhar University, Cairo University's Dar al-Ulum, and the network of traditional study circles associated with the al-Azhar mosque. Together these sites constitute the most important venue for the transmission of religious learning in the contemporary Muslim world. The book gives special attention to contemporary Egypt, and also provides a broader analysis relevant to Islamic legal doctrine and religious education throughout history.