Professor Christopher Melchert

Tutor in Arabic, Abdullah Saleh Fellow in Arabic, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies
01865 276447

Detailed Biography

Alternative Contact Details

Tel: 01865 278211 (Oriental Institute)

College Function:

Fellow in Arabic

Deputy Dean of Degrees

Member of:

Islamic religion (3rd-year Arabic)

  • Governing Body

    Recent Activities

    • 2014-15 academic year was spent at National Humanities Center, North Carolina, USA
    • ‘Muhammad Nasir al-Din al‑Albani and traditional hadith criticism’, presented to colloquium claiming tradition: modern rereadings of the classical Islamic heritage, Pembroke College, Oxford, September 2013.
    • ‘The Formation of Sunni and Shii Tradition­al­ism in Baghdad’, presented to conference on Baghdad—space of knowledge, Berlin, August 2013.
    • 'Apocalypticism in the Hadith Literature', presented to 'Visions of the End' Workshop, Oxford, March 2013.
    • 'The Spread of Hanafism to Khurasan and Transoxania', presented to conference on Eastern Iran and Transoxiana, 750-1150, St Andrews, March 2013.
    • 'Regional schools of law and piety', presented to the Postgraduate Seminar in Islamic Studies, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, October 2012.
    • 'The transmission of hadith: changes in the ninth and tenth centuries C.E.', presented to the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants, Basel, September 2012.
    • 'The early Hanafiyah and Kufa', presented to School of Abbasid Studies, Exeter, July 2012.
    • 'Locating Hell in early renunciant literature', presented to conference on locating Hell in Islamic traditions, Utrecht, April 2012.
    • 'The life and works of al Nasa’i'', presented to conference in memory of Gautier H. A. Juynboll (1935-2010), Leiden, December 2011.
    • 'Ibn al Mubarak's Kitab al-Jihad and early renunciant literature', presented to conference on legitimate and illegitimate violence at the University of Exeter, September 2011.
    • 'The Interpretation of Three Qur'anic Terms of Special Interest to Early Renunciants', presented to the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, February 2011.


    Guest Lectures

    • ‘Māwardī’s Legal Thinking’, presented to New Approaches to World Islamic and Middle East Studies Conference, McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, Montreal, May 2014. 
    • 'Wahhabism and Islamic law', lecture at Agha Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London, February 2012.
    • 'Agreeing to Disagree (or Not): The Shaping of Islam in the Early Middle Ages', the Branigin Lecture, Institute for Advanced Study, Indiana University, February 2011.


    • I love teaching here. Nowhere in the United States could I normally meet students in such small groups. Nowhere in the United States could I read Arabic texts with undergraduates, either.


    • Al-Shaybānī and contemporary renunciant piety’, Journal of Abbasid studies 6 (2019): 52-85.


    • ‘Why non-Muslim subjects are to pay the jizya’. Pages 347-56 in Contacts and interaction. Proceedings of the 27th congress of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants Helsinki 2014. Edited by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, Petteri Koskikallio, and Ilkka Lindstedt. Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta 254. Leuven: Peeters, 2017.


    • ‘Before ṣūfiyyāt: female Muslim renunciants in the 8th and 9th Centuries ce’, Journal of Sufi studies 5 (2016): 115-39.


    • Bukhārī’s kitāb tafsīr al‑Qur’ān’, Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association 1 (2016): 149-72.


    • ‘Muḥammad Nāṣir al‑Dīn al‑Albānī and Traditional Hadith Criticism’. Pages 33-51 in Reclaiming Islamic Tradition: Modern Interpretations of the Classical Heritage. Edited by Elisabeth Kendall and Ahmad Khan. Edinburgh: University Press, 2016.


    • Ḥadith, Piety and Law: Selected Studies. Resources in Arabic and Islamic Studies 3. Atlanta: Lockwood Press, 2015.



    • ‘The Early Controversy Over Whether the Prophet Saw God’, Arabica 62 (2015): 459-76.


    • ‘The Spread of Ḥanafism to Khurasan and Transoxania’. Pages 13-30 in Medi­eval Central Asia and the Persianate World. Edited by A. C. S. Peacock & D. G. Tor. I. B. Tauris & BIPS Persian Studies Ser­ies 7. London: I. B. Tauris, 2015.


    • ‘Basra and Kufa as the Earliest Centers of Islamic Legal Controversy’. Pages 173-94 in Islamic Cultures, Islamic Contexts: Essays in Honor of Professor Patricia Crone. Edited by Behnam Sadeghi, &al. Islamic History and Civilization, Studies and Texts, 114. Leiden: Brill, 2015.


    • ‘Origins and early Sufism’. Pages 3-23 in The Cambridge Com­panion to Sufism. Edited by Lloyd Ridgeon. Cambridge companions to religion. Cambridge: University Press, 2015.

    • 'The Early Ḥanafiyya and Kufa’, Journal of Abbasid Studies 1 (2014): 23-45


    • ‘The Destruction of Books by Traditionists’, Al‑Qanṭara 35 (2014): 213-31.


    • ‘The Life and Works of Al‑Nasā’ī’, Journal of Semitic Studies 59 (2014): 377-Anchor407.


    • ‘Renunciation (zuhd) in the Early Shi‛i tradition’. Pages 271-94 in The Study of Shiʿi Islam: History, Theology and Law. Edited by Farhad Daftary and Gurdofarid Miskinzoda. The Institute of Ismaili Studies Shi‛i Heritage Series 2. London: I. B. Tauris, 2014.


    • ‘Whether to keep unbelievers out of sacred zones: a survey of medieval Islamic law’, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, no 40 (2013), 177-94.


    • ‘Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya and the Hanbali School of Law’. Pp. 146-61 in Islamic Theology, Philosophy and Law: Debat­ing Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al‑Jawziyya. Edited by Birgit Krawietz and Georges Tamer with Alina Kokoschka. Studien zur Geschichte des islamischen Orients, n.F. 27. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2013.


    • ‘Quotations of Extra-Qur’anic Scripture in Early Renunciant Literature’. Pages 97-107 in Islam and Globalisation: Historical and Contem­por­ary Perspectives. Pro­ceed­ings of the 25th Congress of L’Union Européenne des Arabi­sants et Islamisants. Edited by Agos­tino Cilardo. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 226. Leuven: Peeters and Departement Oosterse Studies, 2013.


    • ‘The Islamic Literature on Encounters between Muslim Renunciants and Christ­ian Monks’. Pages 135-42 in Medieval Arabic Thought: Essays in Honour of Fritz Zimmermann. Edited by Rotraud Hans­berger, M. Afifi al-Akiti, and Charles Burnett. Warburg Institute Studies and Texts 4. London: Warburg Institute, 2012.


    • 'Abu Nu`aym's Sources for Hilyat al-awliya', Sufi and Traditionist'. Pages 145-60 in Les maîtres soufis et leurs disciples. IIIe-Ve siècles de l'hégire (IXe-XIe s.). Enseignement, formation et transmission. Edited by Geneviève Gobillot and Jean-Jacques Thibon. Études arabes, médiévales et modernes (PIFD 273). Beirut: Presses de l'IFPO, 2012.