Associate Professor of Law
Adnan A. Zulfiqar
Rutgers Law School
217 N 5th St
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-6370

Adnan A. Zulfiqar, J.D., Ph.D., is a legal historian working on Islamic law, criminal law and law in the Global South, with specific interests in legal obligation, jihad & revolution, policing and criminal codes. He previously helped draft and implement criminal codes in the Maldives and Somalia. He regularly provides expert media commentary for various outlets, is proficient in multiple languages and has spent over a decade in the Middle East, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Biography
  • Publications
  • Courses Taught
  • Expertise

Adnan A. Zulfiqar is an interdisciplinary scholar in the fields of law, history and religion whose research focuses on critically examining frameworks underlying legal discourses in both domestic and global contexts. His primary fields of inquiry are criminal law & procedure, Islamic jurisprudence, and rule of law in the Global South. His most recent work centers on studying how Muslim jurists conceive of and utilize legal duties, particularly in the context of revolution and war; rethinking approaches to the diffusion of human rights norms; and, exploring questions relating to police discretion in the United States. His scholarship has appeared in a number of publications, including the Yale Journal of International Law, Journal of Comparative Law (U.K.), West Virginia Law Review, NYU Journal of International Law & Politics, American Journal of Legal History and the Journal of Islamic Law [Harvard].

Professor Zulfiqar joined the Rutgers Law faculty in 2017. Prior to that, he was a Sharswood Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a Harry F. Guggenheim Fellow and a CASA Fellow (Damascus, Syria). He helped draft and implement new criminal codes and commentaries for the Republic of the Maldives and the Federal Republic of Somalia under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Law Development Organization (IDLO). He also worked as an Associate in the Investigations, White Collar and Fraud Group at Hogan Lovells, LLP (Washington, D.C.) and was a Legislative Staffer to the late U.S. Senator Max Cleland (D-GA). 

Professor Zulfiqar is a Regional Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania's Middle East Center, Editor at Harvard Law School's SHARIASource and faculty affiliate at the Rutgers Center for Transnational Law and the Center for Security, Race & Rights. He received the Wallace Johnson Fellowship for First Book Authors from the American Society for Legal History (ASLH) in 2019 to support his forthcoming book, Duties to the Collective, which explores how premodern jurists utilized collective obligations (fard kifaya) in Islamic law to promote cohesion within the empire. In March 2020, he launched the "Mapping Covid Fatwas Project" in collaboration with Harvard to document legal opinions in response to the pandemic. 

During the 2022-23 academic year, Professor Zulfiqar was an External Faculty Fellow in residence at the Stanford Humanities Center.

Professor Zulfiqar currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Merchant's Fund, Interfaith Philadelphia and Millions of Conversations. He is serving for a second time as Chair of the Section on Islamic Law at the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) and previously was on the Annual Meeting Committee (2020-21) of the American Society for International Law (ASIL), the Editorial Board of the Arab Law Quarterly, the Advisory Board of Sapelo Square and on the Legal Advisory Committee of the ACLU in Philadelphia. From 2021-23, he served as a Commissioner (mayoral appointment) on the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission, the city's official civil rights agency. 

Professor Zulfiqar has been honored as Professor of the Year (2020 & 2021), Grand Marshall (2019) and Reader (2022) by the graduating classes at Rutgers Law School. 

He earned his J.D. (law), M.A. and Ph.D. (near eastern languages & civilizations) from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.L.S. (international affairs) from Georgetown University and a B.A. (religion and anthropology) from Emory University. He is proficient in multiple languages and has spent over a decade in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.


Articles and Chapters

Territory and Jurisdiction in the Medieval Islamic World, Cambridge History of International Law, vol. 8 - International Law in the Medieval Islamic World, eds. Intisar Rabb and Umut Özsu (forthcoming, 2024)

Belief as Status: Premodern Islamic Law, Duties and the Martyr Quandary, 63 Am. J. Legal History 115 (2023)

Human Rights Norms from Below, 48 Yale J. Int'l L. 55 (2023)

The Immorality of Incarceration: Between Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and Angela Y. DavisJ. of Islamic L. [Harvard Law](2022)

The Dominion of Rights, the Resistance of Duties, 22 Rutgers J. of Law and Religion 3 (2022) 

Pursuing Over-Criminalization at the Expense of Islamic Law, 1 J. Islamic L. [Harvard Law] (Spring 2020) [Symposium on Brunei’s Criminal Law Code] web pdf

Collective Duties in Islamic Law: The Moral Community, State Authority and Ethical Speculation in the Premodern Period (dissertation) (2018)

Jurisdiction over Jihad: Islamic Law & the Duty to Fight120 W. Va. L. Rev. 427 (2017)

Revolutionary Islamic Jurisprudence: A Restatement of the Arab Spring49 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 443 (2017)

Codifying Shari’a: International Norms, Legality & Freedom to Invent New Forms, 2 J. Comp. L. 1 (U.K.)(2007)(Co-authored with Paul H. Robinson et. al.).

Of Neocolonialism, Common Law and Uncodifiable Shari’a: A Reply to Professor An-Na’im, 2 J. Comp. L. 61 (U.K.)(2007)(with Paul H. Robinson).

Religious Sanctification of Labor Law: Islamic Labor Principles and Model Provisions, 9 J. Bus. L. 421 (2007).


Other Writing 

Roundtable: History of Islamic International Law - "Territory and Jurisdiction," Harvard Islamic Law Blog (November 10, 2022)

Prisons, Abolition and Islamic Legal Thought, Harvard Islamic Law Blog (October 29, 2020)

Islamic Jurisprudence for Revolution, Harvard Islamic Law Blog (October 22, 2020)

The Modern Transformation of the Duty to Fight, Harvard Islamic Law Blog (October 15, 2020).

Collective Duties (fard kifaya) in Islamic Law, Harvard Islamic Law Blog (October 8, 2020).


Courses Taught
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Human Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • Islamic Law
  • Legal History