I owe the idea of this website to Nicolette van der Hoek, acquisitions editor at Brill, who kindly took the time to explain Brill’s copyright rules to me at the book stalls of the 2018 convention of the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS), held at University of Nottingham. Nicolette explained that I would only be permitted to share my published articles if they were stored on a personal website, not a commercial site like academia.edu or even my faculty page at Cambridge Muslim College, where I lecture on Islamic law. At the time I had only two publications to share, an article and book chapter, but I felt I needed to make a personal website to share my current work and plan for my future publications. However, my typical snail-like progression through my personal projects meant that the fruition of this intention has only come now, more than two years later. I’d like to thank Altaf Kazi and Imran Ahmad of Igrafiks for their help in making the website a reality.

My Research

My academic research is in the area I call ‘Ḥanafism’. I suspect some people might feel uncomfortable with the label and its possible sectarian ring. However, I prefer to call it Ḥanafism, and not simply Islamic law or Ḥanafī law, as my work studies the school of Abū Ḥanīfa (d. 150/767) (God have mercy on him) from the point of view of its presenting a complete thought system, with its own theological premises, its own conception of tradition, its own understanding of the role of the human mind in comprehending God’s law and its own framing of the role of fiqh (jurisprudence) and fuqahāʾ (jurisprudents) in society. My primary interest is in Ḥanafī scholarship between the 5th and 8th Islamic centuries, for reasons I will hopefully explain elsewhere on this site. My DPhil thesis  attempts to present the key underpinning ideas of this thought system, and their implications on how to approach classical works of legal commentary. I am grateful to the BRAIS-De Gruyter prize committee for their selecting my thesis as a joint winner for the 2019 prize (an honour I shared with my dear friend Sam Ross, whose thesis studied Bible references in tafsīr literature). In addition to investigating the legal implications of my work, I also plan to explore notions of piety amongst Ḥanafīs, particularly until the 8th Islamic century, and theological underpinnings of Ḥanafī thought, as these would help me assess one of my key contentions, namely, that Ḥanafīsm is ultimately a way of being in the world. I feel that my work is important, both to academics and Muslim scholars, because it shows how classical Islamic texts exist within complex thought systems that must be fully appreciated on their own terms for us to truly understand what these texts are conveying to us and what their possible implications can be for today’s world. I hope that, by sharing my research here, I will have the opportunity to frame my academic contributions and explain why they are important to me, and also reflect on the limitations of my work. I hope throughout to benefit from contributions and critiques from anyone willing to read and comment on the work presented.

Site Layout

Academic is where I share my academic output. This includes publications, selected conference abstracts, projects in the pipeline, and any resources I wish to share.

General is where I share non-academic output. This includes writings, lectures, resources and personal reflections.

Readings is where I record readings of classical Islamic texts that will hopefully feed into my current and future projects. The areas I plan to cover are Ḥanafī pietistic works, Ḥanafī legal theory (usul al-fiqh) and Qur’anic commentaries.

And, of course, Contact is about you. If you want to get in touch and discuss, I’d be very happy to hear from you. I hope to engage both academics and practitioners of Ḥanafī law with this page and look forward to learning from you all.


I ask God almighty to accept and bless.


Sohail Hanif


21st November, 2020