Raashid Goyal

Ph.D. Candidate: Early Islam and Late Antiquity


I am a sixth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University, where I am writing my dissertation on “War and Law in the First Islamic Polity: A Study of the Terms of Capitulation Tradition.” The study interrogates the compositional development and Near Eastern context of what I propose is an especially impactful legal tradition (hadith) attributed to either the Prophet Muḥammad or one of his first two successors, the “Terms of Capitulation.” The sources preserve around a hundred distinct variants of the tradition, which comprises instructions given to a military commander prior to his setting out on a raid or expedition. These instructions delineate several basic policies of early Islamic government, most importantly: the recruitment of non-emigrant converts for military participation, the exaction of tribute in lieu of conversion, and a contract of protection extended by military commanders. In the first part of my study, devoted to dating the tradition and analyzing its network of transmission, I identify one variant as a largely faithful preservation of policies enacted in the lifetime of Muḥammad. In the second part, devoted to recovering the original significance of the text, I explicate its legal language in light of a variety of Arabic and Semitic sources, especially pre-Islamic poetry and Arabian epigraphy.

During my studies at Cornell, I have been teaching assistant for “Introduction to Islam” and for “Myth and Religion in Mesopotamia.” Last year, I designed and instructed “The Emergence and Articulation of Islam,” in which students and I explored the Near Eastern background for the emergence of Islam, and I am excited to launch a newly developed course on “The Qur'an and Hadith as Literatures and Scriptures.” My personal experience with the Arab and Muslim world stems from three lengthy residences in Marrakesh, Cairo, and Riyadh, where I studied classical Islamic jurisprudence and other subjects.

Committee Members

David Powers (Chair), Ross Brann, Munther Younes, Pavel Pavlovitch


“The Gestation of Arabic Biography: Genre and Method in Early Traditionist Writings.” In The Oxford Handbook of Hadith Studies, ed. Mustafa Shah. Oxford University Press [Forthcoming, in proofs].

“Rebel’s Advocate: How Abū ʿUbayda Maʿmar b. al-Muthannā Came to be Labelled a Khārijite.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 81/1 [Forthcoming, April 2022].

“Al-Ṭabarānī” and “al-Qifṭī.” In The I.B. Tauris Biographical Dictionary of Islamic Civilization, ed. Muhammad A.S. Abdel Haleem and Mustafa Shah. London: I.B. Tauris [Forthcoming, in proofs].

Select Awards

American Institute for Yemeni Studies Research Fellowship, 2021 (postponed)

Carol and Eric Myers Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, W.F. Albright Institute, Jerusalem, 2019-20 (postponed)

Kroll Travel Award, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University, 2019

Timothy Murray Grant, Cornell Society for the Humanities, 2019

Research Travel Grant, Cornell Graduate School, 2019

Research Travel Grant, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, 2018, 2019

Einaudi-Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Dissertation Proposal Development Program, 2018

Brett de Bary Interdisciplinary Mellon Writing Group Grant: “Perceiving the Past, Representing the Present: The Formation of Identity in Late Antique Texts and Media,” Cornell Society for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2017-18

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship—intermediate Persian, 2017-18

HMML Syriac Summer School (tuition and residence), Dumbarton Oaks/Harvard University, 2017


“The Four Braids of the Ruwāla Bedouin, ca. 1930: Continuation of a Pre-Islamic Custom?” Presented at the Tübingen Hadith Studies Workshop (online at University of Tübingen, Germany), Dec 11, 2020.

“The Qur’ānic Aʿrāb: A Reassessment,” presented at the Third Biennial International Conference of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (University of New England, Tangier, Morocco), Jul 26, 2019.

“Reflections on the Prohibition of Music and Song in Islam,” presented for the Cornell University/TST BOCES lecture series, “Listening to the Middle East,” Apr 2, 2019.

“The Critic, the Convert, and the Concealment of the Torah: A Compositional Analysis of the ‘Stoning of the Jews’ Tradition,” presented at the 229th Meeting of the American Oriental Society (Chicago, IL), Mar 16, 2019.

“Meaningful Textual Features (MTFs) and a Layered Approach to ICMA: The ‘Stoning of the Jews’ Tradition as a Case Study,” presented for Approaches to Isnād-cum-matn Analysis (ICMA), workshop directed by Pavel Pavlovitch (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY), Aug 14, 2018.

“Conversion and Subjecthood before the Jizya: New Light from a Qur’ānic-era Tradition,” presented for the panel, “Community, Identity, and the Codification of Islamic Law,” Fifth Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies (University of Exeter, UK), Apr 11, 2018.

“The Arghal Tradition: A Primitive Ruling Concerning Male Circumcision Evincing a Shared Judaic and Islamic Context,” presented at the Second IDEO Conference in Cairo: The Emergence of Ḥadīṯ as the Authority of Knowledge (Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Cairo, Egypt), Jan 12, 2018.

“Muslim and Islam-Affiliated Denominations in the United States,” presented for the Cornell University/TST BOCES lecture series, “America and the Middle East,” Oct 24, 2017.

“Two Policies of Non-Aggression Dating to the Umayyad Period: Abū Bilāl Mirdās b. Udayya, al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, and the Beginnings of Basran Quietism,” presented for the panel, “Reconsidering Kharijism in Early Islamic History,” 33rd Deutscher Orientalistentag (Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany), Sep 27, 2017.

“The Arghal Tradition: Exclusionary Praxis in a Shared Judaic and Islamic Context,” presented at the Symposium organized by students of Syriac and Armenian at HMML (St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN), Aug 4, 2017.

“Rebel’s Advocate: How Abū ʿUbayda Maʿmar b. al-Muthannā Came to be Labelled a Khārijite,” presented for the panel, “Reassessing Textual Transmission in the Early Islamic Period” at the 21st Anniversary NMCGSA Symposium (University of Toronto, Canada), Mar 9, 2017.

Panels Organized

“Community, Identity, and the Codification of Islamic Law,” Fifth Annual Conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies, (University of Exeter, UK), Apr 11, 2018 (with Antonia Bosanquet).