Samy Ayoub

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline Law
Assistant Professor, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Research project

Islamic Law and Political Violence: Fighting Armed Rebellion in the Sacred Mosque of Mecca in the 17th Century


This project is a legal study of political violence in the early modern Ottoman Empire. It investigates how Ottoman Ḥanafī jurists (one of the four Sunnī schools of Islamic law) responded to armed rebellion against Ottoman political authority. I examine two understudied legal treatises that have been written about the sack of Mecca by armed rebel groups in 1632. These treatises provide important insights for studying how premodern Islamic legal discourses dealt with the issue of rebellion under Ottoman rule and sovereignty. I contend that it is in this context of rebellion and violence that we can test the contours of imperial political power and authority. I argue that recurrent defiance to Ottoman political order compelled Ḥanafī jurists to revisit earlier commitments of the school with regard to of dissent and political change. In these two treatises, Ḥanafīs insisted that armed rebellion in the Sacred Mosque in Mecca against local Ottoman authorities went beyond any valid political grievances – which would have been admitted as a plausible cause for dissent – and justified a swift military intervention.



Samy Ayoub is Assistant Professor of Law and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a PhD in Islamic law from the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies and the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. He earned a BA in Islamic jurisprudence from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he received systematic instruction in Ḥanafī jurisprudence. He also received an MSc. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.


Samy Ayoub specializes in Islamic law, modern Middle East law, and law and religion in contemporary Muslim societies. He focuses on issues concerning law, its interaction with religion, and the role of religion in contemporary legal and socio-political systems within a global comparative perspective. He has legal training in Egypt and in the United States, and in Islamic studies. He has taught in law schools, and in religion and Middle Eastern Studies departments. Samy Ayoub is currently serving as the president of the Islamic Law Section at the Associaton of American Law Schools (AALS).

Selected publications


Law, Empire, and the Sultan: Ottoman Imperial Authority in Late Ḥanafī Jurisprudence, Oxford University Press, Oxford. [forthcoming]


'Ottoman Soldiers in the Arabian Peninsula: Fighting Armed Rebellion in the Sacred Mosque of Mecca in the Seventeenth Century', Turkish Historical Review, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 18-38.


'The Sulṭān Says: State Authority in The Late Ḥanafī Tradition', Islamic Law and Society, vol. 23, 2016, pp. 239-278.


'The Mecelle: Sharīʿa, and Ottoman State: Fashioning and Refashioning of Islamic Law in the 19th – 20th Century CE', The Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, vol. 2, no. 1, 2015, pp. 121-146.


'Territorial Jurisprudence (ikhtilaf al-darayn): Political boundaries & legal jurisdiction', Contemporary Islamic Studies, vol. 2, 2012, pp. 4-33.



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Linguistics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Linguistics
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Linguistics and Discourse Analysis