Department of History

Maariyah Lateef

Ph.D. Candidate
Research Interests Late Ottoman history; social history of 19th century Damascus and the broader Middle East; intellectual history; interactions between muftis, kadis, and their communities; Islamic legal and ethical norms.


Dissertation: An Ottoman Lawmaker Pre-Tanzimat: The Life, Works, & Legacy of Ibn ʿĀbidīn (d. 1836)

"My dissertation aims to construct a social biography of the nineteenth-century Damascene jurist Ibn ʿĀbidīn (d. 1836), whose opinions reached his contemporaries in Tripoli, Jerusalem, and beyond by the time he reached only his late thirties. It examines his life, works, and legacy by drawing upon both published and unpublished sources — including court records, legal works, letters of correspondence, probate inventories, biographical dictionaries, manuscripts, and Ottoman archival records. By removing Ibn ʿĀbidīn from the 'telos of Tanzimat' and situating him within his local context, while also comprehending his own experience of global events and networks, I will offer a vibrant example of early nineteenth century Ottoman lawmaking. It will also serve as a much-needed intervention in the history of the ulema, moving beyond the intellectual to the social to see them as active participants in their local communities. Finally, it will include a story of Damascus’s everyday people, as they shaped the cases Ibn ʿĀbidīn consulted and built his legal enterprise upon, thereby also addressing the debate on the supposed divide between the theory and practice of the sharia."