C.V. | Publications | Project

Research Interests
Legal anthropology, legal pluralism, multiculturalism, cultural minorities, customary norms and regulations, religious and cultural mediation and arbitration, the informal practices of Islamic normativity in Germany, political Islam/Islamism, Jihadism

Research Areas
Europe (esp. Germany)
MENA region (esp. Egypt, Turkey, Palestine and Israel)


Mahmoud Jaraba joined the Law and Anthropology Department in January 2018 as a postdoctoral research fellow in the research project ‘Conflict Regulation in Germany’s Plural Society’. He aims to extend his earlier research project, Paralleljustiz (2015), which was based at the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe (EZIRE) at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg. In doing so, he will further explore the kind(s) of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that exist among Muḥallamī in Germany. Using an ethnographic approach, he plans to identify the major actors and the mechanisms that the focus groups use in order to reach extrajudicial settlements. He analyses the socio-economic and anthropological layers entangled in the history, clusters of values, guiding principles, symbols, rites, traditional folk wisdom, legends, and mentalities of Muḥallamī. Knowledge of these diverse patterns of legitimation will enable Jaraba to draw conclusions regarding the conflict potential of the various conflict regulation mechanisms and the line of demarcation between official state law and unofficial normative orders, where the concept of legality gains relevance. Methodologically, he engages in participant observation, various forms of interviews with local agents, clients, and experts from civil society, informal conversations, and analysis of written documents.

Prior to joining the MPI, Jaraba was involved in the research project Muslime in Bayern (‘Muslims in Bavaria’) with the EZIRE and the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities). By using an ethnographic approach (conducting participant observation and in-depth interviews), he explored how Salafists build their networks, frame their ideology, and recruit young Muslims. He also studied the root causes of radicalization among young Muslims by analysing the propaganda and community structure of Salafists.

Over the last few years Jaraba has been studying the context, practice, and dynamics of nikāḥ (Islamic marriage) and ṭalāq and ḫulʿ (two types of Islamic divorce) among Sunni Muslims in Germany. In his work, he aims to investigate the various dynamics of religious forms of mediation and arbitration employed by imams and other community leaders attempting to legitimate certain solutions through the evocation of šarīʿa (sharia) arguments or customary rules (qawāʿid ʿurfīya). He looks specifically at the unofficial roles played by religious actors in settling family disputes or implementing certain family-related aspects of šarīʿa in a fully extrajudicial manner.

Jaraba’s dissertation (2013, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg) offers a comprehensive comparative analysis of processes of ideological transformation of Islamic social movements. Drawing on Michael Mann’s theory of social power, he employs an analytical approach that focuses on the concept of a ‘regime’ as an interrelated system of power networks: political, economic, ideological, and military. His dissertation explains the divergent processes of ideological formation and reformulation in which the Turkish Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (Gammāʿat el-ʾIḫwān el-Muslimīn) operate and attempt to reshape their respective regimes in order to gain access to and transform the social and political spheres in their respective countries.

Prior to completing his dissertation, Jaraba worked in a number of Palestinian NGOs and research centres, among them the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, the Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy (Muwatin), and the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN). He completed his MA in international studies (with honours) and a BA in political science from Birzeit University in Palestine.

Why Law & Anthropology?

Studying the combination of law and anthropology will offer me further insights into how local communities can hold together and secure their social order by using customary and/or religious norm-based settlements to resolve interpersonal and intracommunal conflicts within (or outside of) the confines of law. Focusing solely on analysing state-made codified rules and court decisions can only partially illuminate local normative orders and how complex social arrangements can be reached, recognized, and sustained.

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