C.V. | Publications | Project

Research Interests
Islamic studies (with a special focus on Islamic law), anthropology of religion, normativity and religion (i.e. legal practice of Islam in the Middle East and Europe), politics and religion, religion and society

Research Area(s)
Africa (Horn of Africa), Europe (Germany), North Africa and the Middle East


Abdelghafar Salim started his academic training in Islamic studies at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, with a focus on Islamic law, Islamic theology, and Islamic normativity. He went on to study for a master's degree in German as a foreign language at Ain Shams University (Cairo). The binational master's degree was examined by the two participating universities, Ain Shams University and the University of Leipzig. Salim's master’s thesis dealt with cultural patterns in Egypt, and was based on intensive fieldwork.

Before joining the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Salim taught German to refugees in Leipzig (Germany). This experience inspired him to combine his diverse academic training with his daily contact with refugees. In the second half of 2017, he started working on his doctoral research project, which takes an anthropological approach to the ongoing dynamics between Islamic normativity (as reflected in Islamic legal theory) and the religious practices of Muslim refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2015. The aim of his project is to examine how the Muslim actors orient their daily lives towards their central religious guidelines. This is a particular challenge for Muslim refugees in Germany, as they have to adapt to a new social context that is completely different from their respective countries of origin

Salim also works on the research project 'Mosque Communities in Saxony' at the Institute of Oriental Studies at Leipzig University, under the supervision of Prof. Dr Verena Klemm and Tom Bioly. Within this project he empirically investigates the ḥalāl infrastructure in the context of mosque communities in Leipzig. He is particularly interested in how individual actors and authorities deal with the ḥalāl issue in everyday life in East Germany.

Why Law & Anthropology?

The combination of law and anthropology allows me to reflect on the ways in which Muslim refugees negotiate distinct normative orders (Islamic law and state law) within the complexity of a predominantly non-Islamic society. Here, concepts of orthodoxy and orthopraxy as analytical modes within the anthropology of Islam become visible. Such insights are important for my research in that they contribute to the broader debate on the relative merits of a bottom-up anthropological approach to Islamic law versus a more scriptural, intellectual, top-down approach.

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