Faiz Ahmed Assistant Professor of History

Trained as a lawyer and social historian, Faiz Ahmed specializes in the legal and constitutional history of the Middle East and Islamicate world. From the Ottoman Empire to the British Raj, and the eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, Ahmed's primary research interests include student and scholarly networks, constitutional movements and state building, and international law and diplomacy. His first book, Afghanistan Rising: Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires (Harvard University Press, 2017), unearths a lost history of Muslim debates and exchange across regional divides by tracing the struggle of a diverse cast of jurists in winning Afghan independence and promulgating the country's first constitution between 1877 and 1923. 

Ahmed's second book project, supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in Turkey, explores the history of relations between the Ottoman Empire and the United States—as seen from Ottoman perspectives. Based on work in the Ottoman state archives, Red Crescent Society, and other rare Turkish collections and fieldsites from Istanbul to New England, his current research uncovers the social, economic, and religious underpinnings of the Sublime Porte’s evolving interest in the American republic during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

Professor Ahmed is also a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Program, Social Science Research Council, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Empirical Legal Studies program at UC Berkeley School of Law for his research in Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, India, and the UK.

Brown Affiliations

scholarly work


Afghanistan Rising: Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires  (Harvard University Press, 2017).


“In the Name of a Law: Islamic Legal Modernism and the Making of Afghanistan’s 1923 Constitution.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 48 (2016): 655-677.

“Contested Subjects: Ottoman and British Jurisdictional Quarrels in re Afghans and Indian Muslims.” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 3 (2016): 325-246.

“Istanbul and Kabul in Courtly Contact: The Question of Exchange between the Ottoman Empire and Afghanistan in the Late Nineteenth Century.” Osmanlı Araştırmaları: The Journal of Ottoman Studies 45 (2015): 265-296.

“The Forgotten Anniversary: 10/7 and America’s Longest War.” Jadaliyya (October 2011).

"Shari'a, Custom, and Statutory Law: Comparing State Approaches to Islamic Jurisprudence, Tribal Autonomy, and Legal Development in Afghanistan and Pakistan." Global Jurist 7 (2007): 1-56.

"Afghanistan's Reconstruction, Five Years Later: Narratives of Progress, Marginalized Realities, and the Politics of Law in a Transitional Islamic Republic." Gonzaga Journal of International Law 10 (2007): 269-314. *Winner, UC Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies Best Published Paper (2007).

"Judicial Reform in Afghanistan: A Case Study in the New Criminal Procedure Code." Hastings International and Comparative Law Review 29 (2005): 93-134. *Honorable Mention, Chief Justice Roger J. Traynor Legal Writing Competition (2006).

research overview

legal and constitutional history; students, scholars, educational networks; migration, transnationalism, and citizenship; diplomacy and international law; Ottoman Empire and Turkey; Afghanistan, India, and the Persianate world; the Middle East and the Americas; ethics and politics of knowledge production on Islam, Muslims, and the Middle East.