Mark Fathi Massoud

Professor · Director of Legal Studies

Mark Fathi Massoud is professor of politics and legal studies at UC Santa Cruz, where he directs the Legal Studies Program and serves as affiliated faculty with the Center for the Middle East and North Africa. Massoud also holds an appointment as Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Oxford.

Research Interests

Massoud studies law in states under crisis, using archival research, ethnographic fieldwork, and interviews. His book, Shari’a, Inshallah, investigates the relationship between religious faith and the rule of law in Somalia and Somaliland. His book, Law’s Fragile State, shows how colonial officials, authoritarian regimes, and international lawyers have used the rule of law to govern Sudan. Massoud is also principal investigator (with Kathleen M. Moore) of Shari’a Revoiced, a study of Islamic law in the United States.

Published in 2021:

Shari’a, Inshallah:
Finding God in Somali Legal Politics

Cambridge University Press | Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

Western analysts have long denigrated Islamic states as antagonistic, even antithetical, to the rule of law. Mark Fathi Massoud tells a different story: for nearly 150 years, the Somali people have embraced shari’a, commonly translated as Islamic law, in the struggle for national identity and human rights. Massoud upends the conventional account of secular legal progress and demonstrates instead how faith in a higher power guides people toward the rule of law.


Born in Sudan and raised in California, Massoud is a first-generation university graduate. He has held Carnegie, Guggenheim, and Mellon Foundation Fellowships, and visiting positions at Stanford and Princeton. In 2022 he will give the Cecil & Ida Green Lecture at the University of British Columbia and the Evans-Pritchard Lectures at the University of Oxford.

Professional Service

Massoud is an editor of the Cambridge Studies in Law and Society book series. He serves on the Advisory Council of the NSF Law and Science Dissertation Grant Program. He is a past trustee of the Law and Society Association.

photo shows Dr. Massoud speaking at a podium dressed in formal academic regalia

Mark Fathi Massoud (he/هو)

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