Haider Ala Hamoudi

Interim Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Professor of Law


Professor Haider Ala Hamoudi serves as the Interim Dean of the Law School. He previously served as Vice Dean, a position he took on July 1, 2018, following his promotion from the position of Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. From 2013 to 2017, he was the Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development. As Interim Dean, Hamoudi is a critical member of the leadership team. His responsibilities include management and long term planning of the Law School curriculum, supervision of adjunct faculty, member of the leadership team drafting a strategic plan for the Law School, supervision of the budget planning process, including annual sessions with stakeholders to identify budget priorities, and primary representative of the Law School.

Professor Hamoudi is also the Editor in Chief of the Arab Law Quarterly, a position he has held since September 1, 2018.  He was retained by Brill, the publisher of the Quarterly, in order to to revitalize and restore its scholarly reputation of Quarterly­ as the most highly regarded and widely distributed law journal addressing matters of Arab law in the English language. To this end, Professor Hamoudi has led an effort to replace entirely the peer review process, establish special symposium issues, recompose the Board of Editors, and engage in an aggressive digital marketing campaign to redefine the image of the Quarterly within the relevant scholarly community.

Professor Hamoudi’s scholarship focuses on Middle Eastern and Islamic Law. As concerns Islamic law, and specifically Islamic finance, where he has done much of his writing, his approach has been to focus on the manner in which modern legal actors, with their own preexisting political, social, economic and ideological dispositions, interpret and apply Islamic law as part of the positive law of contemporary states. In addition to his numerous articles and book chapters in a wide variety of law school journals, university presses and other scholarly venues, as a result of which he has become internationally recognized as a leading scholar in the field, he has coauthored a casebook on Islamic Law entitled Islamic Law in Modern Courts, and a Nutshell on Islamic Law with West Publishing.

As with his Islamic Law work generally, Professor Hamoudi’s scholarship in the law of the Middle East focusses on the law as it operates in the field rather than as it exists in texts and commentaries. 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.

Key/Recent Publications

Books, Dissertations:

Book Chapters and Articles:

  • Uniform Law in a Divided Society: A Closer Look at the Iraqi Personal Status Code, in Normativity and Diversity in Family Law (Springer 2022).
  • Sex Policing in the Arab World, in Understanding Global Legal Pluralism: From Local to Global, From Descriptive to Normative (Oxford 2020) (Berman, P., ed).
  • Engagements and Entanglements: The Contemporary Waqf and the Fragility of Shi’I Quietism, 35 J. L. & Rel. 215 (2020).
  • Strategic Juristic Omission and The Non-Muslim Blood Price: AN Examination Of Shīʿī Fiqh And Practice, in Visions of SHARĪ ͑A: Contemporary Discussions on Shī ͑ī Legal Theory (Brill 2019).
  • Beyond the Hawza: Legal Pluralism and the Ironies of Shi’I Law in, Regulating Religion in Asia (Cambridge University Press 2019).
  • Book Review: Arguing Islam After the Revival of Arab Politics, by Nathan J. Brown, 32 J. L. & Religion 527 (2017).
  • Resurrecting Islam or Cementing Social Hierarchy?: Reexamining the Codification of “Islamic” Personal Status Law, 33 AZ. J. Int. & Comp. L. 329 (2016), available on SSRN.
  • Sex and the Shari’a: Defining Gender Norms and Sexual Deviancy in Shi’i Islam, 39 Fordham Int’l L. J. 25 (2015), available on SSRN.
  • Lone Wolf’ Terrorism and the Classical Jihad: On the Contingencies of Violent Islamic Extremism, 11 Florida Int’l U. L. Rev. 19 (2015), available on SSRN.
  • The Political Codification of Islamic Law: A Closer Look at the Draft Ja’fari Personal Status Code of Iraq, 33 AZ. J. Int. & Comp. L. 329 (2016). 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 2015). Available on SSRN.
  • 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). 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 2015) (co-authored with Wasfi H. Al-Sharaa and Aqeel Al-Dahhan).
  • 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.
  • Identitarian Violence and Identitarian Politics: Elections and Governance in Iraq, 51 Harvard Int. L. J. Online 82 (2010).
  • 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.
  • 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.

Other Activities

  • American Constitutional Law and the Islamic Experience, University of Pennsylvania (April 26, 2023).
  • Occupation and Constitution Making: Reflections of Iraq Twenty Years On, Boston University (March 4, 2023).
  • The Failures of Islamic Constitutionalism in Iraq, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies (Feb. 20, 2023).
  • On Moral Rights and Maqasid: Animal Rights and the Tragedy of Contemporary Shi’i Jurisprudence, University of Birmingham (March 9, 2022).
  • Shi’i Rationalism and the Law of Slavery, 2021 Annual Conference of the American Society of Comparative Law (October 22, 2021).
  • Islamic Law in United States Courts: A Critical Reexamination, Eckert Seamans (May 10, 2021).
  • Public Order And State Skepticism: Shi’ism and the Scriptural Crime of Banditry, Catholic Theological Union (March 24, 2021).
  • Islamic Law from the Internal Perspective, Roundtable: Islamic Legal History and Historiography, Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School (March 5, 2021).
  • University Support for Legal Scholarship: Challenges and Opportunities in the American Experience, Virtual Lecture at the University of Baghdad College of Law (Jan. 21, 2021)(in Arabic).
  • The Restoration of the Arab Law Quarterly, Virtual Lecture at Baghdad’s Iraqia Law School (June 8, 2020) (963 attendees, in Arabic).
  • Commentary on Prof. Freamon’s “Possessed by the Right Hand,” Islamic Law Section, AALS Annual Meeting, (January 5, 2020).
  • Instrumental Engagement: Shi’i Jurists and the Waqf in Contemporary Iraq, Wayne State University School of Law (March 25, 2019).
  • Islamic Law in the Modern State, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law (Feb. 15, 2019.
  • Commentary on Leonard Wood Book, Islamic Legal Revival in 20th Century Egypt, AALS Annual Meeting (Jan. 5, 2019).
  • Justice in the Islamic Tradition, Duquesne University School of Law (April 25, 2018).
  • Islamic Finance and the Clash of Faiths, Annual Meeting of the American Society of Comparative Law (October 27, 2017).
  • On the Quietist Myth, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law (June 14, 2017).
  • Teaching Islamic Law, AALS Islamic Law Section, at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Schools (Jan. 6, 2017).
  • Islamic Law in the American Legal System, AALS Jewish Law Section, at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Schools (Jan. 4, 2017).
  • Religious Conversion and Iraqi Courts: Promises and Perils, Bayan Claremont Islamic University (April 23, 2016).
  • Iraqi Law and the Protection of Antiquities, Proceedings for the American Society of International Law (March 31, 2016).
  • Abrahamic Religions & The Middle East, Duquesne University (Symposium on Inter-Religious Dialogue) (March 9, 2016).
  • Islamic Law Pedagogy, University of California, Santa Barbara (February 20, 2016).
  • The Ironies of Shi’i Law, National University of Singapore (December 11, 2015).
  • Lone Wolf Terrorism and the Classical Jihad: On the Contingencies of Violent Islamic Extremism, Florida International University College of Law (October 22, 2015) (via videoconference).
  • Islamic Law in Modern Courts: Introduction to a Casebook, Center for International Legal Education Twentieth Anniversary Conference (September 11, 2015).
  • Mediating Modern Law and Medieval Fiqh: On the Strategic Juristic Omission of the Najaf Jurists, Center of Islam, Law and Modernity, Durham University (United Kingdom) (August 18, 2015).
  • Strategic Juristic Omission: On the Non-Muslim Bloodprice in Shi’i Islam, Global Islamic Criminal Law Conference (May 1, 2015).
  • The State of the Iraqi Judiciary, Rand Corporation (Arlington. VA) (April 2, 2015).
  • Iraq and Imperfect Constitution Making, Indiana University Maurer School of Law (February 26, 2015).
  • 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).