University of Washington
Thomas and Elissa Ellant Katz Fellowship

Research Topic

Conscription, Captives, and Spoils among Arabian Jews: The Quran and Early Muslim Sources as Evidence for Late Antique Jewish Legal Culture


Hamza M. Zafer is a historian of premodern Arabian and African languages and textual traditions of the Red Sea region, and is currently the Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Washington. His work explores the historical interface between Jewish and Muslim religio-political thought in the Red Sea region from the sixth to the sixteenth century.

Zafer received his PhD in Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. He was most recently a Summer Visiting Associate Professor in Classics at Princeton University.

Selected publications

  • Ecumenical Community: Language and Politics of the Ummah in the Qurʾan (Brill, 2020)
  • “Transformations in Early Muslim Prophetology: From Typology to Teleology in Narratives of Jonah and the Ninevites,” Journal of Qurʾānic Studies 22.1 (2020)



Focusing on the broad contexts in which Jewish (and Israelite) law was developed by and for Jews, and in which it operated, treating law as a necessary component for understanding the broader dynamics of culture, history, governance, and economics of each place and period.