Ebrahim Afsah

Ebrahim Afsah is an associate professor of international law at the University of Copenhagen, where he teaches international, European Union, constitutional and Islamic law. He has been trained at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Trinity College Dublin, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and the Max Planck Institute for International Law in Heidelberg. Before joining the faculty in Copenhagen, he worked for a decade as a management consultant in the Middle East and Central Asia, primarily on administrative and legal reform, counter-narcotics, prisons and legal training.

His areas of interest are public international law, especially the law of armed conflict; public law, especially administrative and constitutional law in post-conflict settings; and Islamic law, again especially its (underdeveloped) public law. Ebrahim has been a Fernand Braudel Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, a senior fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo and will be in residence at Harvard during the spring semester 2018.

During this period, he will compare the Islamic instrument of waqf and the related Western concept of a (landed) trust. He is interested in examining the methodological and theoretical foundations of the waqf and its integration into modern state bureaucracies and legal systems, which have been heavily characterised by borrowings from Western law. He seeks to investigate three related aspects in contemporary Muslim legal systems: first, how the modern Ministries of Charitable Endowments, which exist in one way or other in virtually all Muslim nations, operate; second, the legal basis in the modern period under which foundations operate in the Muslim world, especially the extremely influential bonyads in the Islamic Republic of Iran; and, thirdly, the manner in which certain institutions that historically have been key beneficiaries of charitable endowments – especially schools, universities, seminaries – have been legally incorporated in the modern period.