Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and the College
Ahmed El Shamsy studies the intellectual history of Islam, focusing on Islamic law and theology, cultures of orality and literacy, and classical Islamic education. He is particularly interested in the changing ways that religious authority has been constructed and interpreted in the Muslim tradition. He is currently working on a book on the early evolution of Islamic law and its institutions in ninth-century Egypt.
In other ongoing research projects, he is investigating the formal aspects of medieval Muslim education and the reinvention of the traditional scholarly canon via the printing press in the early 20th century.
El Shamsy received his PhD from Harvard University in 2009, an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He was awarded the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm H. Kerr Award for his dissertation, which examines the birth of the Shafi‘i school of Islamic law. His recent publications include articles on legal conformism, the Shafi‘i school, and Islamic theology and hermeneutics.
El Shamsy joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2010.