Tamir Moustafa


Associate Professor
Stephen Jarislowsky Chair
Harbour Centre 7238


Ph.D. University of Washington, Department of Political Science
B.A. University of California, San Diego, Department of Political Science

Areas of Specialization

• Law and society
• Religion and politics
• Politics of the Middle East

Research and Teaching

Tamir Moustafa is Associate Professor of International Studies and Stephen Jarislowsky Chair at Simon Fraser University. His research stands at the intersection of comparative law and society, religion and politics, and state-society relations, all with a regional focus on the Middle East and, more recently, Southeast Asia.

Moustafa’s first major project focused on the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, and the politics of courts in authoritarian regimes more generally. This culminated in the publication of The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt (Cambridge University Press 2007) and Rule by Law: The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes (Cambridge University Press 2008, edited with Tom Ginsburg).

His current research explores the public debates that are generated as a result of dual constitutional commitments to Islamic law and liberal rights in Egypt and Malaysia. In both countries, constitutional provisions enshrining Islamic law and liberal rights lay the seeds for legal friction, and courtrooms serve as important sites of contention between groups with competing visions for their states and societies. The project explores how litigation provokes and shapes competing conceptions of national and religious identity, resolves or exacerbates contending visions of Islamic law, and ultimately bolsters or undermines public perceptions of government legitimacy.

Moustafa’s research has been funded through the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).  He has held visiting fellowships at UC Berkeley, Princeton University, and Harvard Law School and was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2007 for his work on Islamic law and liberal rights.  He currently serves as a Trustee for the Law and Society Association.



Rule by Law: The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes (Cambridge University Press, 2008, with Tom Ginsburg).

The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Selected Articles

Liberal Rights versus Islamic Law? The Construction of a Binary in Malaysian Politics,” Law & Society Review, vol. 47 (2013) 771-802.

"Judging in God's Name: State Power, Secularism, and the Politics of Islamic law in Malaysia," Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, vol. 3 (2014).

Islamic Law, Women’s Rights, and Popular Legal Consciousness in Malaysia,” Law and Social Inquiry, vol. 38 (2013) 168-188.

"Law in the Egyptian Revolt," Middle East Law and Governance, vol. 3 (2011), 181-191.

"The Islamist Trend in Egyptian Law," in Politics and Religion, vol. 3 (2010), 610-630.

Law versus the State: The Judicialization of Politics in Egypt” in Law and Social Inquiry, vol. 28 (2003), 883-930.

Conflict and Cooperation between the State and Religious Institutions in Contemporary EgyptThe International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 32 (2000), 3-22.

Please see CV for a full list of publications.


  • Choice 2008 Outstanding Title for The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt
  • American Political Science Association 2004 Edward S. Corwin Award for the best dissertation in the field of public law.
  • Western Political Science Association 2004 Best Doctoral Dissertation Award.
  • Middle East Studies Association 2003 Malcolm Kerr Dissertation Award, honorable mention.

Research Grants

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant, 2012-2015
  • Carnegie Scholar, 2007-2011
  • National Science Foundation, Law and Social Sciences Program, 2000-2001
  • Social Science Research Council Dissertation Fieldwork Fellowship, 2000-2001
  • American Research Center in Egypt Dissertation Fieldwork Fellowship, 2000-2001
  • Fulbright Scholar, Cairo, Egypt, 1997-98 Academic Year

Visiting Appointments

  • Harvard Law School, 2011-2012

  • Princeton University, Law and Public Affairs Fellow, 2005-2006

  • UC Berkeley, Institute for International Studies Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2002-2003

Curriculum Vitae (February 2014)