Dr Omar Anchassi

Early Career Fellow in Islamic Studies


I am an Islamicist with interests in Islamic law and legal theory, aspects of Islamic theology, Qur’an commentary and the history of science. I joined Edinburgh Divinity in September 2018 having spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Exeter, where I researched various discrete issues in Islamic Law from the formative to the modern periods, always with an emphasis on the ‘uses of the past’ (the project rubric). These included such areas as gender and sexuality, inter-confessional relations, and public violence. The project was a collaborative one, involving colleagues in three other European insitutions (Bergen, Gottingen and Leiden), directed by the indefatigable Rob Gleave (further information is available at usppip.eu). My PhD, completed at Queen Mary University (QMUL) under the supervision of the wonderful Yossi Rapoport, explored the life and oeuvre of the late, great Fazlur Rahman (d. 1988), recently hailed by Shahab Ahmed as ‘probably the finest modern student of Islamic intellectual history.'


BA (History, English Literature)

MA (Intellectual History)


Responsibilities & affiliations

Treasurer and Membership Officer, BRAIS (British Association for Islamic Studies)

Coodinator and Committee Member of the BRAIS-De Gruyter Prize in Islamic Studies

Undergraduate teaching

Islam Past and Present: Issues of Gender and Ethics (Semester 1, 2018-2019)

Literary Classics of the Islamic World (Semester 2, 2018-2019)

Research summary

Islamic law and legal theory, aspects of Islamic theology (i.e. Kalām), Qur'anic commentary

Invited speaker

‘From the Effects of Unbelief to Trajectories of Emancipation: Some Reflections on Slavery in the History of Islamic Thought’ (Hamburg University, 8th November 2017).

Papers delivered

  • ‘A Monopoly of Legitimate Violence?  Extra-Judicial Punishment and the Limits of  Non-State Authority in the History of Islamic Law’ (University of Exeter, BRAIS Conference, 9-11th April 2018).
  • ‘Stacks of Plates and Cosmic Kebabs: Some Reflections on Muslim Receptions of Scientific Cosmographies’ (International Islamic University of Malaysia, KLIKS 3, 19th-22nd March 2018).
  • ‘Dangerous Liaisons: Slave-Concubinage, Purity and Confessional Boundaries in Early Islamic Law’ (University of Exeter, Islamic Law and Sexuality Conference, 9th-11th January 2018).
  • ‘‘So their lineages are not cut off…’: The Reframing and Reformulation of the Legal Discourse on Slavery and Slave-Concubinage from the mid-Nineteenth to the mid-Twentieth Centuries’ (MESA Conference, Washington D. C., 18th- 21st November 2017).
  • ‘‘Like Giving a Snake [More] Poison to Drink’: Juristic Attitudes to Female Literacy from the Formative to the Modern Periods’ (University of Göttingen, 12-14th October 2017).
  • ‘Al-Khaḍkhaḍa fī Jald `Umayra: Or, Towards a History of Onanism in Islamic Thought’, presented at a workshop I organised at the University of Exeter entitled ‘Sex and Sexuality in Islamic Law’ (22nd June 2017).  This paper was also presented at the DOT Conference in Jena (18-22nd September 2017).
  • ‘Public Violence in Islamic Law and the Historical Imaginary: Some Reflections’ (NIMAR, USPPIP project workshop in Rabat, 24-25th February 2017).
  • ‘Ghāyat al-Amānī fi al-Istimtā` bi al-Jawārī, Or Sexual Pleasure and Slave Concubinage: Naẓar (Looking), Mass (Touching) and Waṭ’ (Sexual Intercourse) in Islamic Law from the Formative Period to ISIS’ (University of Chester, BRAIS Conference 11-13th April 2017).
  • ‘A Trace of the Traces of Unbelief: the Logic of Slavery in pre-Modern Legal and Theological Texts’ (Senate House London, BRAIS Conference, 11-12th April 2016).
  • ‘The Islamic Cosmographical Tradition and its Contestation, from Ptolemy to Copernicus and Beyond’, (Averroes Foundation, London, December 13th 2015).
  • ‘Fazlur Rahman on Revelation and Prophecy’ (Cambridge Muslim College, From Revelation to Scripture Symposium, September 12th 2015).
  • ‘Fazlur Rahman, Islamic Law and Gender’ (Senate House London, BRAIS Conference, 13-15th April 2015).
  • ‘On the Art of Removing One’s Turban: Fazlur Rahman, Zakāt and the Impossible State’ (Queen Mary University and SOAS, ‘Reformers and Intellectual Reformulation in Contemporary Islam’, 29th-30th January 2015).
  • ‘What Has Athens to do with Mecca?  Fazlur Rahman and Falsafa’ University of Edinburgh, BRAIS Inaugural Conference, 10-11th April 2014).
  • ‘Fazlur Rahman’s ‘Qur’ānic turn’, Islamic Law and Gender’ (University of Exeter, Shariah Project Conference, 6-7th February 2014).
  • ‘Fazlur Rahman’s Contribution to the Historiography of Early Islamic Law and his Suggestions for its Reform’ (University of Exeter, Shariah Project Conference, 18th-19th April 2013).