Mohamad El-Merheb, Scouloudi Fellow (6 months)

Islamic Political Thought: Competing Conceptions of the Rule of Law in the Middle Period

Mohamad is a PhD candidate in the History department of SOAS - University of London. His thesis focuses on the history of Islamic political thought across the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th and 14th centuries. Its main argument is that the rule of law, limited government, and delegation of power were the principal concerns of this period’s political treatises. The competition for an official law of the state among the four legal schools (madhhabs) extended into the domain of public law and thus motivated the production of political thought in the central lands of Islam. Mohamad’s research relies on a rich corpus of political treatises, administrative and statecraft manuals, and mirrors for princes authored between the 12th and the 14th centuries, some brought to light from the manuscript collections for the first time.
This corpus displays a remarkable shared and genuine concern for the above three constitutional themes. The thesis first traces the legal, political, and philosophical influences on these treatises in earlier and contemporary works. The research then investigates the socio-political context of the authors and discusses how they emphasised the exceptionality of their political ideals, to whom they elected to present their works, and what they expected in return both individually and as members of wider social groups.
More broadly, Mohamad is interested in the Seventh Crusade, St Louis (Louis IX), and the cross-cultural transfer, including political ideas, in the Medieval Mediterranean. He examined the construction of the image of Louis IX, as a western king and Christian saint, in the mediaeval Muslim sources in, ‘Louis IX in Medieval Arabic Sources: The Saint, the King, and the Sicilian Connection’, in Al-Masāq: Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean, Vol. 28, No.3 (2016), 282-301.  Mohamad received an MA in History from SOAS and a BE from the American University of Beirut.