Munther AlSabagh

Assistant Professor


I am a social-economic historian of the Ottoman Levant and Arabian Gulf and am interested in studying how economic and market constraints shaped laws and political organization in the early modern period. I draw on my prior working experience in Islamic banking and have a continued interest in the field of Islamic Economics. My dissertation, Before Banks: Credit, Society, and Law in Sixteenth-Century Palestine and Syria (2018), fills the historical gap in tracing the Mamluk antecedents to the radical Ottoman legal and economic credit institutions and practices of the sixteenth century and provides a nuanced social-legal history of how instruments such as the mu‘āmala and cash-waqfs developed in the Levant.         


2018: Ph.D. in History, University of California Santa Barbara

2011: M.A. in Religious Studies, University of California Santa Barbara

1998: BA in Management, Clark University


Arabic – Native

French and Spanish – intermediate reading proficiency

Research and Professional Activities

My scholarship examines the relationship between law, commerce and society in the Levant and Arabian Peninsula between the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. I am interested in processes of capital formation, forms of communal organization, structures of trade and the relationship between markets and the early modern state.

Research interests:

Early modern market systems and courts, merchant communities, digital archives


Social-legal history, Islamic Studies, Ottoman Studies, Merchant History, Economic History

Teaching Areas


Hist 203 Modern Middle East History

Hist 251 World History



“Leveraging patrimony: the waqf legacy of Sāra bt. Shams al-Dīn Ibn al-Muzalliq of Damascus (d. 923/1517),”ORIENT: Journal of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan, Vol. 54(2019)