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book cover to Shari'a, Inshallah (2021)


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

Shari’a, Inshallah takes Massoud’s pathbreaking scholarship on fragile states to a new frontier … A brilliant, superbly nuanced analysis of the integral role of religion in state-building, law-making, and social life.’

Terence C. Halliday

American Bar Foundation

‘[A]n impassioned piece of advocacy for the value of shari’a as a source of justice.’

Justin Willis

The Conversation

‘…[A] bold and refreshing perspective on struggles over governance in Africa’s Horn that also offers an elegant reimagining of Islamic law’s role in the making of 21st century states.’

Susan Hirsch

George Mason University

‘A compassionate, timely, and hopeful study. The core message that “the problem is not shari‘a, it is what people have done with it” presents an opportunity for Muslim-majority countries to reconcile faith, custom, and law.’

Dr. Jama Musse Jama

Hargeysa Cultural Centre

‘A comprehensively researched and fascinating legal ethnography. Massoud shows how Somali activists acclaim, yet strategically manipulate, shari‘a to link nation, state, human rights, and inter-clan unity — perhaps even more so than the judicial institutions favored by the Western aid community.’

David D. Laitin

Stanford University

‘Whatever you understand about shari‘a, this insightful book will challenge it.’

Asifa Quraishi-Landes

University of Wisconsin, Madison

‘An invaluable, brave, and insightful contribution.’ 

American Political Science Association

Ralph J. Bunche Award citation

‘A powerful, important piece of scholarship [produced] through the expert use of multiple methods.’ 

American Sociological Association

Sociology of Religion Distinguished Book Award citation

‘A remarkable new take on legal pluralism [and] the limits of secularism…Highly recommended.’ 


book cover for Law's Fragile State (2013)

2014 – paperback

Law’s Fragile State: Colonial, Authoritarian, and Humanitarian Legacies in Sudan

‘A remarkable piece of socio-legal scholarship [made] into an incredibly readable story.’

Law and Society Association

Herbert Jacob Prize citation

‘Challenges our assumptions about the notion that law promotes democracy and human rights … [an] insightful study.’

American Political Science Association

C. Herman Pritchett Award honorable mention citation

‘Well-researched … well-written [and] thought-provoking … Highly recommended.’


Law’s Fragile State invites us to interrogate exactly what we mean by the rule of law and what we expect it to accomplish.’

Sally Engle Merry

New York University

‘Insightful, sober, and forward-looking analysis of the practice of human rights.’

Abdullahi An-Na’im

Emory University



Teaching Three Canons of International Law

Third World Approaches to International Law Review (Reflections) #28


Sudan’s Rule of Law Revolution

Current History 119: 169-174


Theology of the Rule of Law

Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 11(2-3): 485-491


Islamic Law, Colonialism, and Mecca’s Shadow in the Horn of Africa

Journal of Africana Religions 7(1): 121-130


How an Islamic State Rejected Islamic Law

American Journal of Comparative Law 66(3): 579-602


Reflections on the Future of Global Legal Studies

Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 25(2): 569-581


Field Research on Law in Conflict Zones and Authoritarian States

Annual Review of Law and Social Science 12: 85-106


Rethinking Shari’a: Voices of Islam in California

Boom: A Journal of California 5(4): 94-99 (with K. M. Moore)


The Influence of International Law on Local Social Movements

Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research 31(1): 3-32


Rights in a Failed State: Internally Displaced Women in Sudan and Their Lawyers

Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice 21: 2-12

Book Chapters

University of Pennsylvania Press

Landscapes of Law in War-Torn Societies

Landscapes of Law: Practicing Sovereignty in Transnational Terrain

Cambridge University Press

The Legal Profession’s Promise of Justice: Choices and Challenges in Legal and Socio-Legal Work

The Legal Process and the Promise of Justice: Studies Inspired by the Work of Malcolm Feeley

Cambridge University Press

The Politics of Islamic Law and Human Rights: Sudan’s Rival Legal Systems

The New Legal Realism, Volume II: Studying Law Globally

Cambridge University Press

Lawyers and the Disintegration of the Legal Complex in Sudan

Fates of Political Liberalism in the British Post-Colony: The Politics of the Legal Complex



Muslim women are using Sharia to push for gender equality

The Conversation (reprinted in Seattle Post-Intelligencer, St. Louis Post, Salon, Yahoo, and other outlets)


Interdisciplinary Interfaces: Theology and Law

Frontiers of Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies


Shari’a, Inshallah

Fifteeneightyfour, Cambridge University Press


Don’t blame Sharia for Islamic extremism — blame colonialism

The Conversation (reprinted in San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, AP News, Yahoo, and other outlets)


Is the South Sudan Power-Sharing Deal Bound to Fail?

The Africa Report


Can Sudan Survive Another Term of Bashir’s Rule?

The Africa Report


The Rule of Law in Sudan

Fifteeneightyfour, Cambridge University Press


Returning the Rule of Law to Sudan

San Francisco Chronicle

Mark Fathi Massoud (he/هو)

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