The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Anver Emon

Professor, Canada Research Chair in Religion, Pluralism and the Rule of Law

Office Location:  JHB 530


Faculty of Law


Dr. Emon is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Religion, Pluralism, and the Rule of Law. He is jointly appointed in History and the Faculty of Law.  From July 2018, he has also served as Director of UofT's Institute of Islamic Studies.

His research focuses on premodern and modern Islamic legal history and theory; premodern modes of governance and adjudication; and the role of Shari'a both inside and outside the Muslim world.  His general academic interests include topics in law and religion; legal history; and legal philosophy. At the Faculty of Law, he has taught torts, constitutional law, legal ethics, and statutory interpretation, while offering specialized seminars on Islamic legal history, gender and Islamic law, and law and religion.  In the Department of History, Dr. Emon offers courses in both the undergraduate and graduate curricula in the fields of Islamic history, Islamic legal studies, and law and history.

The recipient of numerous research grants, he was named a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow in the field of law. He is a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, which awarded him the 2017 Kitty Newman Memorial Award in Philosophy. In 2018 he was elected a Senior Fellow to Massey College. Emon was the founding editor of Middle East Law and Governance: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and currently serves as the series editor of the Oxford Islamic Legal Studies Series.

In addition to publishing numerous articles, Emon is the author of Islamic Natural Law Theories (Oxford University Press, 2010), in which he illustrates a distinctively jurisprudential disciplinary approach among premodern Muslim jurists toward the authority of reason in the law.  In his Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law (Oxford University Press, 2012), Emon contested whether concept of 'tolerance' offered a helpful framing device for understanding the premodern Islamic rules governing the treatment of non-Muslim permanent residents in Muslim lands (e.g. the ahkam al-dhimma). In his co-edited anthology Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law: Searching for Common Ground? (Oxford University Press, 2012) Emon collaborated with the International Bar Association and the Salzburg Global Seminar to interrogate the universal, general, and descriptive language used by advocates of both human rights and Islamic law to claim each tradition as a fount of justice.  The collection brought together leading historians and jurists from around the world to 'clear ground' between the two often contesting traditions of value and justice. He is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), which features 35 critical essays on different features of Islamic legal historiography.

Professor Emon currently has two book projects under way.  The first, which is currently under review, is a co-authored book that addresses why Muslim majority states generally refuse to join the Hague Abduction Convention, 1980.  The study uses that specific case study to examine historically and legally the regimes of Islamic family law, private international law, and Islamically informed personal status laws in Muslim majority states.  The study challenges the convention wisdom that locates the problem in a failure of human rights, and instead suggests that a more keen attention to jurisdiction would support a more vibrant international conversation.  The second, which is in progress, blends the historical epistemology of the History of Science with the study of premodern Islamic legal doctrines to bring historical attention to paradigmatic continuity in legal thinking.


  • BA, UC Berkeley
  • JD, UCLA
  • MA, University of Texas
  • LLM, Yale Law School
  • PhD, UCLA
  • JSD, Yale Law School