University of Pittsburgh

Haider Ala Hamoudi

Associate Professor of Law
Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development

Professor Hamoudi teaches contracts, commercial law and Islamic law. In 2014, he was awarded the Robert T. Harper Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor Hamoudi’s scholarship focuses on Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, particularly, but not exclusively, as it pertains to matters of commerce. He has called for a reassessment of the manner in which law in the Muslim world is understood and approached, with less reliance on medieval texts and more emphasis on the positive law of the nation states of the Muslim world and on the political, social, economic and ideological influences that influence its interpretation. He has written for numerous law reviews, spoken at conferences in distinguished academic and practitioner venues such as Yale University, Harvard University, Columbia University, the American Association of Law Schools and the New York City Bar Association, and given interviews to various news organizations including The New York Times,,, the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour Online and the New York Law Journal.  In 2009, Professor Hamoudi was awarded the Hessel Yntema prize, awarded by the American Society of Comparative Law for the best article produced in the American Journal of Comparative Law the previous year by an author under the age of 40.

Professor Hamoudi spent most of 2009 in Baghdad advising the Constitutional Review Committee of the Iraqi legislature, responsible for developing critical amendments to the Iraq Constitution deemed necessary for Iraqi national reconciliation, on behalf of the United States Embassy in Baghdad. He also advised on other key pieces of legislation, including a hydrocarbons law, a revenue management law, and an antitrust law. From this work, and from extensive contemporaneous research into the records and legislative history of the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution in 2005, Professor Hamoudi published a book with the University of Chicago Press in 2013 entitled Negotiating in Civil Conflict: Imperfect Bargaining and Constitutional Construction in Iraq.

Professor Hamoudi’s most recent work looks at the three primary forms of legal order in the Iraqi nation-state—tribal law, Islamic law and state law—and attempts to explain how they interact with one another to organize commercial and other private law activity throughout the state. As with his earlier work, Professor Hamoudi seeks to demonstrate that the actual operation of law, including Islamic law, is far more complex, and interesting, than any examination of authoritative legal texts would lead one to believe.

Professor Hamoudi received his B.Sc. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993. He was both a member of the Physics Honor Society, Sigma Pi Sigma, and a Burchard Scholar for Excellence in the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 1996, Professor Hamoudi received his J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. After graduating, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Constance Baker Motley in the Southern District of New York and then worked as an Associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton until 2003. In 2003 and 2004, Professor Hamoudi served as a legal advisor to the Finance Committee of the Iraq Governing Council, as well as a Program Manager for a project managed by the International Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul University School of Law to improve legal education in Iraq. He joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Law as an Assistant Professor in 2007.

Professor Hamoudi is the author of a blog on Islamic Law entitled Islamic Law in Our Times


  • JSD, Columbia University
  • JD, Columbia University
  • B.Sc, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Links

  • Islamic Law in Our Times
  • Facebook page
  • Twitter: @Muslimlawprof
  • Selected Publications


    • Islamic Law In Modern Courts: Cases And Materials (Aspen 2014 forthcoming).
    • Negotiating in Civil Conflict: Constitutional Construction and Imperfect Bargaining in Iraq, (U. Chicago Press 2013). Introduction available on SSRN.
    • Toward a Legal Understanding of the Shari'a (Columbia University Dissertation, 2009).
    • Howling in Mesopotamia, (Beaufort Books, 2008).

    Book Chapters and Articles:

    • The Impossible, Highly Desired Islamic Bank, 5 William & Mary Bus. L. Rev. 105 (2014). Available on SSRN.
    • Decolonizing the Centralist Mind: Legal Pluralism and the Rule of Law, in The International Rule of Law Movement: A Crisis of Legitimacy and The Way Forward (Harvard University Press 2014, forthcoming). Available on SSRN
    • The Resolution of Disputes in State and Tribal Law in the South of Iraq: Toward a Cooperative Model of Pluralism, in Negotiating State and Non-State Law: Challenges of Global and Local Pluralism (Cambridge University Press 2014, forthcoming).
    • Juristic and Legislative Rulemaking: A History of the Personal Status Code of Iraq 1959-2013, in Family Law and Gender in the Modern Middle East and North Africa (Cambridge University Press 2014, forthcoming).
    • Religious Minorities and Shari’a in Iraqi Courts, 31 Boston U. Int. L.J. 387 (2013). Available on SSRN.
    • Repugnancy in the Arab World, 48 Willamette L. Rev. 427 (2012). Available on SSRN.
    • Arab Spring, Libyan Liberation and the Externally Imposed Democratic Revolution, 89 Den. U. L. Rev. 699 (2012). Available on SSRN.
    • The Surprising Irrelevance of Islamic Bankruptcy, 19 AM. Bankr. Inst. L. Rev. 505 (2011). Available on SSRN.
    • Notes in Defense of the Iraqi Constitution, 32 U. Pa. J. Int'l L. 1117 (2011). Available on SSRN.
    • The Will of the (Iraqi) People, 2011 Utah L. Rev. 45 (2011). Available on SSRN
    • Identitarian Violence and Identitarian Politics: Elections and Governance in Iraq, 51 Harvard Int. L. J. Online 82 (2010). Available online
    • Ornamental Repugnancy: Identitarian Islam and the Iraqi Constitution, 7 St. Thomas L. Rev. 3 (2010). Available on SSRN.
    • The Death of Islamic Law, 38 GA. J.  Int'l & Comp. L. 294 (2010). Available on SSRN.
    • Dream Palaces of Law: Western Constructions of the Muslim Legal World, 32 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 803 (2009). Available on SSRN.
    • Baghdad Booksellers, Basra Carpet Merchants, and the Law of God and Man: Legal Pluralism and the Contemporary Muslim Experience 1 Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law 1 (2008). Available on SSRN
    • The Muezzin’s Call and the Dow Jones Bell: On the Necessity of Realism in the Study of Islamic Law, 56 Am. J. Comp. L. (2008). Available on SSRN.
    • You Say You Want a Revolution: Deviationist Doctrine, Interpretive Communities and the Origins of Islamic Finance, 48 Va. J. Int. L. 249 (2008). Available on SSRN.
    • Muhammad’s Social Justice or Muslim Cant?: Langdellianism and the Failures of Islamic Finance, 40 Cornell Int. L. Rev. 89 (2007). Available on SSRN.
    • Money Laundering Amidst Mortars: Legislative Process and State Authority in Post-Invasion Iraq, 16 Trans. L. & Contemp. Prob. 523 (2007). Available on SSRN.
    • Jurisprudential Schizophrenia: Form and Function in Islamic Finance, 7 Chi. J. Int. L. 605 (2006). Available on SSRN.
    • Toward a Rule of Law Society in Iraq: Introducing Clinical Legal Education into Iraqi Law Schools, 23 Berkeley J. Int. L. 113 (2005).  Available on SSRN.

    Book Reviews:

    • Islamic Law in Action, 28 J. L. & Rel. 555 (2013). Available on SSRN.
    • Constitutional Theocracy,, 49 Osgoode Hall L.J. 151 (2011). Available on SSRN.
    • Islam and Liberal Citizenship, 26 J.L. & Rel. 387 (2010). Available on SSRN.
    • Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, 2 Middle East L. & Gov. 81 (2010). Available on SSRN.
    • The Crisis of Islamic Civilization, 47 Osgoode Hall L.J. 159 (2009). Available on SSRN.

    SSRN Author Page


    Awards and Honors

    • Winner, Robert T. Harper Award Excellence in Teaching (May 2014).
    • Middle East Distinguished Scholar in Residence, College of William and Mary (March 2014).
    • Nonresident Senior Fellow, Boston University Institute for Iraq Studies (Sept. 2011 - present).

    Selected Professional Activities

    • Islamic Legal Realism, Harvard Law School (June 2, 2014).
    • Conceptions of Maturity in Islamic and State Law, Al Mahdi Institute, Birmingham, United Kingdom (April 4, 2014).
    • Book Presentation on Negotiating in Civil Conflict, Allegheny Harvard, Yale, Princeton Club (March 27, 2014).
    • Understanding the Shi’a Sunni Split, Kraemer Distinguished Scholar Address, College of William and Mary (March 13, 2014).
    • Islam in the Iraq Constitution, William and Mary Law School (March 12, 2014).
    • Commentary on The Struggle for Iraq’s Future, New York University School of Law (March 5, 2014).
    • Negotiating in Civil Conflict, University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Jan. 23, 2014).
    • Legal Pluralism and the Rule of Law, Harvard Law School (Nov. 8, 2013).
    • Constitution Making and Arab Spring Transitions, Wayne State University Law School (Sept. 6, 2013).
    • Religious Minorities in the Islamic State: The Example of Iraq, Boston University Law School (March 25, 2013).
    • Legality in the Revolution, Osgoode Hall, York University (March 15, 2013).
    • The Myth of the Islamic State, Islamic Law Section, American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting (Jan. 6, 2013).

    Revised 08/02/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC