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Department of Near Eastern Studies

Cornell University Cornell University Near Eastern Studies

Faculty Detail


Egypt from Space


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Powers, David Stephan

Director of Graduate Studies

phone: 607/255-1332
room: White Hall, Room 421


Department Appointments

  • Near Eastern Studies (NES)

Graduate Fields

  • History
  • Medieval Studies
  • Near Eastern Studies

Other Affiliations

  • Medieval Studies (MEDVL)
  • Medieval Studies Program
  • Program of Jewish Studies
  • Religious Studies Program (RELST)


David S. Powers (Ph.D., Princeton, 1979) is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and long-suffering Cleveland Indians fan. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1979 and began teaching at Cornell in the same year. His courses deal with Islamic civilization, Islamic history and law, and classical Arabic texts, and his research focuses on the history of Islamic law and its application in Muslim societies. Powers is the author of Studies in Qur'an and Hadith: The Formation of the Islamic Law of Inheritance (California, 1986), Law, Society, and Culture in the Maghrib, 1300-1500 (Cambridge, 2002), and Muhammad is Not the Father of Any of Your Men: The Making of the Last Prophet (University of Pennsylvania, 2009). He is founding editor of the journal Islamic Law and Society and Sectional Editor (Law) of the third edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam.


  • Islam, Qur'an, Hadith, Law, Gender, the Maghrib


NES 3677 - Search for the Historical Muhammad | spring 2010 class

Selected Publications

Encyclopaedia Entries:
  • "Appeal", "Adoption", Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3nd ed.,
  • "Inheritance", "Judicial Review", "Wansharisi", Encyclopaedia of Legal History
  • "Endowments", "Inheritance", "Qadis", Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia
  • "Inheritance, Islamic", Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, E-I (2002)
  •  “Wakf”, Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., vol. XI, 69-75
  • "Inheritance," "Endowment," and "Alms-Tax" in the Dictionary 
  • of the Middle Ages. New York: Scribners, 1983

Awards and Distinctions

  • Carnegie Corporation of New York Fellowship, 2007-08
  • Lady Davis Fellowship, 1996-97 (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
  • Travel Grant, American Institute for Maghribi Studies, 1997
  • Merrill Presidential Teaching Award, spring, 1992  
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, fall, 1991
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Grant, 1989
  • Cornell Faculty Research Grant, 1983, 1980