Zahra Rasouli

Zahra Rasouli is a Research Assistant at the Program in Islamic Law, Summer 2021. She works on the Courts&Canons (CnC) project, using machine learning to help develop the CnC-Qayyim data analytics tool. She holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School (2021), and Bachelor of Science in physics with a minor in political science from MIT (2019). 

Karina Halevy

Karina Halevy

Karina Halevy

Karina Halevy is an undergraduate student majoring in Applied Math and Computer Science. She’s interested in computational linguistics, data science for social good, education, and tech ethics.

Mary Elston

Mary Elston is a scholar of Islam focusing on the modern and contemporary Middle East. Her research interests are in the anthropology of Islam, religious studies, and Islamic intellectual history, with a focus on education, knowledge, politics, and language. 

Her dissertation, “Reviving Turāth: Islamic Education in Modern Egypt,” combines ethnography and textual analysis to examine the politics, texts, and practices of a traditionalist education movement at Egypt’s al-Azhar, the preeminent institution of Islamic learning located in Cairo, received the Alwaleed Bin Talal Prize for Best dissertation in Islamic Studies in 2020. 

Her research in Egypt was supported by the Loeb Dissertation Research Fellowship in Religious Studies, the Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and Harvard University Center for African Studies. At PLS, Mary plans to turn her dissertation into a book manuscript, tentatively titled “Constructing Tradition: Islamic Turāth in the Contemporary Islamic World.” Her book will take a social scientific and humanistic approach to debates about tradition, knowledge, and Islamic education in the modern and contemporary Muslim world.

 In May 2020, Mary received her Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

email: [email protected]

Rabiat Akande

Rabiat Akande was a Research Affiliate at the Program in Islamic Law between 2019-2020 and a Clark Byse Fellow at Harvard Law School. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Law at Osgoode University. 

Her current research explores struggles over religion-state relations in comparative contexts and illuminates law’s centrality to one of modernity’s most contested issues–the relationship between religion, and the state, and society–while also interrogating law’s complex relationship with power, political theology, identity, and socio-political change. These issues are at the forefront of her book project, Constitutional Entanglements: Empire, Law and Religion in Colonial Northern Nigeria (under contract with Cambridge University Press), which traces the emergence of “secularism” as a constitutional idea of ordering religion-state relations in early to mid-twentieth century British Colonial Northern Nigeria, and grapples with the postcolonial legacy of that inheritance.

She received her SJD from Harvard Law School in 2019 and obtained her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Ibadan, graduating with a First Class Honors and at the top of her class and later studied at the Nigerian Law School from which she also graduated with a First Class Honors.

Zahra Takhshid

Zahra Takhshid was a Research Affiliate to the Program in Islamic Law and the Reginald Lewis Fellow for Law Teaching at Harvard Law School. She also served as the Islamic Law Fellow at the Institute on Religion, Law, & Lawyer’s Work at Fordham Law School.

She is also a passionate advocate of youth education and has taught and worked with middle school and high school students in Washington, D.C., and New York City. In addition, Zahra writes Op-Eds for several Iranian newspapers on current comparative legal issues. She speaks Farsi as her native language and is fluent in English. She is proficient in French, Arabic, and the programming language Swift. Her scholarly interests include torts, contracts, comparative defamation law and privacy, and Islamic law. In her doctorate dissertation, she analyzed the role of public policy and unconscionability in negligence lawsuits that involve the express assumption of risk defense. She is currently working on a paper which re-examines the unconscionability defense pertaining to arbitration clauses and offers a new perspective. 

Zahra received her Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) and LL.M. in Private and Islamic Law from the University of Tehran School of Law and Political Science. She then pursued her second LL.M. degree at the George Washington University Law School. Zahra earned her Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree from Fordham Law School. 

Mohammad Abderrazzaq

Mohammad A. Abderrazzaq is a Research Affiliate at the Program in Islamic Law. He has also been a contributing editor for the Sharia Source Project at Harvard Law School. In addition to his research in Islamic legal theory, Mohammad has taught courses on Islam in America, Islamic intellectual history, Islamic law, Islamic history, and Qur’anic exegesis.

His dissertation was a study of the development of maqāṣid juridical theory, which he is preparing for publication under the title The Higher Objectives of Islamic Law: The Development of Maqāṣid Theory from al-Shāṭibī to Ibn ʿĀshūr and the Contemporary Maqāṣid Movement. Mohammad is also an editor for a book series treating the maqāṣid thought of premodern and modern legal figures.

He received his PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

Salah Muhiddin

Salah Muhiddin is a JD candidate at Harvard Law School.

Photo portrait of Saqib Qureshi

Saqib Qureshi

Photo portrait of Saqib Qureshi

Saqib Qureshi is an MTS Candidate at Harvard Divinity School.

Hedayat Heikal

Hedayat Heikal is a Research Fellow at the Program in Islamic Law and a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. She served as a Research Scholar in Law and the inaugural Islamic Law and Civilization Research Fellow at Yale Law School, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo, as well as a Graduate Program Fellow at Harvard Law School. Her academic work focuses on comparative constitutional law, the rise of the administrative state, and Middle Eastern and Islamic law. Between 2009 and 2013, she practiced as a litigation, arbitration, and enforcement attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York, representing clients on a wide array of disputes and regulatory matters.

She recently completed a  dissertation titled “Beyond Juristocracy: The Rise and Fall of Judicial Activism on National Identity Questions in the Middle East.”

Hedayat also holds a Doctor of Law (J.D.) magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) summa cum laude from the American University in Cairo. 

Seyed Masoud Noori

Dr. Noori is a Global Academy Scholar in partnership with the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). He is also a scholar in residence at New York University School of Law. His other recent academic posts include positions at Trinity University (San Antonio, TX), NYU Law School, Emory Law School, and National University of Ireland, Galway. Prior to 2010, Masoud was a faculty member at Mofid University, Qom, Iran, where he served at the Center for Human Rights Studies (2004-2009) in several leadership positions, including establishing the first law clinic in Iran (2007).

Dr. Noori is a law professor, Islamic issues researcher, and journalist focusing on the relationship between Islamic law/Sharia and the international human rights law system. His interests include legal clinics and clinical legal education, children’s rights, Islam and the environmental crisis, interfaith dialogue, constitutions in Muslim countries, religion, and politics in the Middle East.

In addition to a Ph.D. in Private Law, he has more than 20 years of experience in studying, teaching, and researching Islam at Qom Seminary, including nine years at the level of ijtihad in jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence.