Welcome Back!


We hope you had a productive and restful summer! We are thrilled to resume our in-person programming and Visiting Fellowship Program this year, and to launch new and exciting opportunities for students to engage in law and policy research and advocacy projects. Our first event will take place on Tuesday, September 12. Please see below for details and keep an eye out for more information and announcements over the coming weeks.

We are also pleased to extend a warm welcome to the 2023–2024 Visiting Fellows cohort, Faiz Ahmed, Afrooz Maghzi, Marwa Sharafeldin, and Tarek Zeidan. Our Visiting Fellows will conduct research, hold academic workshops, and participate in the Program’s activities and programming. Please see below for more about them and their work.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your questions or comments! We are thankful for your support of the program and hope that you and yours are safe and well. 


With best wishes, 

Kristen Stilt, Salma Waheedi, Ceallaigh Reddy, and Sarah Pickering

2023–2024 Visiting Fellows

Faiz Ahmed is the Joukowsky Family Distinguished Associate Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at Brown University. Professor Ahmed specializes in the late Ottoman and British empires, Afghanistan, and diasporic communities tied to the region we today call the Middle East. His core research and teaching engage questions of human mobility, travel, and migration; social histories of Islamic law and learning; and the intersections of constitutionalism, citizenship, and diplomacy. 

Read full bio.

Afrooz Maghzi is an Iranian lawyer, socio-legal researcher and human rights activist. Her focus is on multiculturalism and minority rights in Europe, gender inequality in Islamic criminal and family law, and social movements. Currently, she is a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (MPI), Halle (Saale), Germany, and at the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe (EZIRE), Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen, Germany. 

Read full bio.

Marwa Sharafeldin is a scholar activist based in Egypt. Her research and work lies in the intersection between Islamic law, international human rights law and feminist activism in the Muslim world. Marwa’s work on the ground involves supporting governmental and non-governmental agencies globally in their work on gender justice and equality, including Muslim family law reforms.  

Read full bio.

Tarek Zeidan is a sexual and bodily rights activist from Lebanon advocating for the rights and protection of LGBT communities in the MENA region. He is the executive director of Helem, the first LGBT rights organization in the Arab World founded in 2001. His expertise lies in global LGBTIQ advocacy, digital rights, economic justice, and political participation.   

Read full bio.

To view profiles of the Program’s full community, please see the People page on our website.

Fall 2023 Events Preview

Cultural Destruction in Armed Conflict: The Attack on Yemen’s Heritage and Why It Matters

Tuesday, September 12, 2023 

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm 

HLS Campus, WCC 2004 


Refugee Camps in the Global South as an Instrument of Global Refugee Containment  

Monday, September 18, 2023 

12: 15 pm – 1:15 pm 

HLS Campus, WCC 3018 


Crisis in Sudan: Challenges of Democratic Transformation and Human Rights  

Tuesday, September 26, 2023 

11:00 am – 12:30 pm 

Zoom: Register here


Jerusalem: Insights into a Divided City 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 

12:15 pm – 1:15 PM 

HLS Campus, WCC 3018 


Design from the Margins: Justice Informed Tech and MENA LGBTQ Communities  

Tuesday, October 3, 2023 

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm 

HLS Campus, WCC 3016 


The Judicial Crisis in Israel: What Does it Mean for Israelis and Palestinians?  

Thursday, October 5, 2023 

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm 

HLS Campus, Hauser 102 


For more on future events and discussions please check the Upcoming Events section on our website.

New Appointments and Roles

Our warmest congratulations to…  

2022-2023 Visiting Fellow Lihi Ben Shitrit for her appointment as the new Director of The Taub Center for Israel Studies and the Henry and Marilyn Taub Professor of Israel Studies at New York University, beginning September 2023. 


2020-2021 Visiting Fellow Gehan Gunatilleke (HLS LLM ’10) for his appointment to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. He assumed his duties as Commissioner in July 2023. 


Spring-Fall 2020 Visiting Fellow J. Andrew Bush for his appointment as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Bard College. 


Program Executive Director, Salma Waheedi, for her appointment as Religion and Public Life Fellow in Conflict and Peace at the Harvard Divinity School, starting September 2023. 

Research, Publications, and Scholarly Engagements

In Spring 2023, Faiz Ahmed recently published an article in Law and History Review (Vol. 41, Issue 2) titled, “Courts and Constitutions in South Asia and the Global South: A View from the Middle East,” which served as an afterword to the journal’s special issue on 20th century South Asian legal history. In Summer 2023, Ahmed spoke at a conference sponsored by the British Academy reflecting on the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), an international agreement formalizing the partition of the Ottoman Empire and configuration of most Middle East maps today.  

Lihi Ben Shitrit published an article in Religions entitled “Media Representations of Gendered Minority Practices: The Case of Polygamy in Israel,” with Sophia Abela Kiwanuka and Asia Parker. She also contributed a chapter entitled “Women of the Wall, Temple Mount Activism, and the Dilemmas of Jewish Feminism in Jerusalem in the newly published edited volume The King Is in the Field: Essays in Modern Jewish Political Thought. In Spring 2023, Ben Shitrit convened and moderated a panel discussion at Harvard Law School entitled Settler Logics: the Israeli Settlement Movement in Context, with Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler and Oded Haklai.

Fatima Essop published an article in the South African Law Journal entitled “Do Islamic-law wills contravene the common-law prohibitions against delegation of testamentary powers and incorporation by reference?” She also wrote an analytical piece on the status of South African Muslim marriage legislation in Muslim Views. In Summer 2023, she presented her paper “Balancing the Right to Equality with the Right to Religious Freedom in the Context of Islamic Inheritance – A South African Case Study” at the Annual Meeting of Law and Society in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and participated in the Young Scholars Fellowship on Religion and the Rule of Law at Christ Church, Oxford. In Spring 2023, Essop gave a seminar at Harvard Law School entitled “South Africa: Navigating Religious Rights in a Constitutional Democracy.” 

As part of launching Musawah's newly released book, Justice and Beauty in Muslim Marriage, Marwa Sharafeldin was invited to speak on the Women of the Middle East podcast. Sharafeldin talked about her work and research on the different pathways of Muslim family law reform towards gender justice that have effectively taken place, combining Islamic law with human rights standards to address new lived realities in Muslim societies. 

Kristen Stilt and colleagues at the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard and the Center for Environmental and Animal Protection at New York University published the policy report, Animal Markets and Zoonotic Disease in the United States (2023).  Stilt has continued to work on two major publications in progress: Food, Faith, and the Future of Planetary Health (book manuscript), and the Oxford Handbook of Global Animal Law (ed. with Anne Peters and Saskia Stucki). She participated in many conferences, including at the Oxford Center for Animal Rights, where discussions included Judge Athar Minallah, a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Judge Minallah spoke about the latest animal rights decisions in Pakistan and the role of Islamic law in these judicial decisions.

Salma Waheedi co-edited the third edition of the Journal of Constitutional Law in the Middle East and North Africa (JCL-MENA), with Tamara El-Khoury. The edition features critical analysis of current developments in constitutional law and constitutionalism in Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, and Libya. It will be published in English and Arabic this Fall jointly by the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World and the Arab Association of Constitutional Law. Waheedi is also working on a chapter in the forthcoming volume Small State Constitutionalism (ed. Elisabeth Perham, Maartje de Visser, and Rosalind Dixon). Waheedi’s report on Animal Law in the Arab Gulf States is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Global Animal Law.

Workshop on Gender, Law, and Politics

in the Middle East and North Africa 

On May 3, 2023, the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World at Harvard Law School hosted a full-day workshop on Gender, Law, and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), featuring cutting-edge research on the subject, with 17 participants representing 13 different academic institutions from across the United States, as well as Europe and the Middle East. The workshop presented an opportunity for senior and junior scholars in the fields of law, political science, anthropology, gender studies, and Middle East studies to present their work in progress and receive valuable input and feedback.

2023 Writing Prize

SJD candidate Fady Khoury was awarded the 2023 Writing Prize for his paper “Constitutional Design in Divided Societies: Historical Formations, Power-Sharing and Courts – The Case of Lebanon.” Click here to learn more.

Upcoming Opportunities

We will begin accepting applications for the 2024-2025 Visiting Fellowship Program starting October 2023. Keep an eye out for an announcement by email.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter/X and Facebook for up-to-date information and announcements.

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