Kerstin Hünefeld

Kerstin Hünefeld

Kerstin Hünefeld
Islamic Studies
Jews in Islamicate contexts

Islamic law and political thought (focus on fiqh literature and siyar law)
Zaydiyya and Zaydi Studies
Dhimma law and Muslim-Jewish encounters
Islamic (intellectual) history and (early) historiography
Manuscripts and (social) codicology
Yemen (Jews and Muslims, Zaydi imamate)
Conceptual approaches
Imaginations of “the other”


Personal website: Kerstin Huenefeld

Current Projects: 

Conceptualizations of the Other and the Self in Islamic Law and Political Thought.

The Dhimma relationship between Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din (r.1904-1948) and the Jews of Sanaa
Original (working-)title in German: Dhimma-Raum: Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din, die Juden Sannas, und die (Aus-)Handlung islamischen Rechts im zaiditischen Jemen (forthcoming 2022, DeGruyter, Berlin)

Curriculum Vitae


2016: Dr. Phil. Freie Universität Berlin

2009: Magistra Artium in Islamic and Jewish Studies at Freie Universität Berlin

2002-2003: Visiting student, Rothberg International School, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Academic Appointments, Fellowships, and Affiliations

2018 – 2019          Postdoctoral Fellow, Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Year theme: “Jewish Life in Modern Islamic Contexts”

2017 – 2018          part-time substitute for Prof. Gudrun Krämer and adjunct faculty, Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

2017                        Postdoctoral Fellow, State Islamic University Sunnan Kalijaga (UIN), Yogyakarta, Indonesia

2009 – 2017          Teaching positions at the Institutes of Islamic and Jewish Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Potsdam

2010 – 2013          Doctoral candidate, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies with stipend

2011 – 2012          Associated Visiting Researcher at the Yemen Center for Studies and Research (Markaz al-Dirāsāt wa’l-Buḥūth al-Yamanī), Sanaa, Yemen

2009 – 2010          Research Assistant, Institute of Jewish Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, project: "Lexicon of Jewish Names," financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under the leadership of Prof. Tal Ilan



Hünefeld, Kerstin. Dhimma-Raum: Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn, die Juden von Ṣanʿāʾ und die Praxis islamischen Rechts im zaiditischen Jemen. Walter De Gruyter: Berlin. (forthcoming 2022)

Tal Ilan and Kerstin Hünefeld. Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity, Part IV: The Eastern Diaspora 330 BCE-650 CE, Text and Studies in Ancient Judaism, Vol. 141, ed. by P. Schäfer, A.Y. Reed, S. Schwartz et al. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.

Hünefeld, Kerstin. Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd ad-Dīn und die Juden in Sana’a (1904-1948): Die Dimension von Schutz (Dhimma) in den Dokumenten der Sammlung des Rabbi Sālim b. Saʿīd al-Ǧamal. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 2010.


Articles in peer reviewed Journals:

Hünefeld, Kerstin. “Niẓām al-Yahūd (“The Statute of the Jews”): Imām Yaḥyā’s writing to the Jews of Ṣanʿāʾ from 1323/1905.” Chronique du Manuscrit au Yémen 16 (July 2013): 26-74.

Articles in peer reviewed edited volumes:

Hünefeld, Kerstin and Menashe Anzi. “Ṣanʿāʾ, Jerusalem, New York: Imām Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn (1869-1948) and Yemeni-Jewish Migration from Palestine to the United States.” In The Yemeni Manuscript Tradition, Brill Series Islamic Manuscripts and Books, Vol. 7, ed. by S. Schmitdke, C. Rauch and D. Hollenberg. Leiden: Brill, 2015, 252-280.

Hünefeld, Kerstin. “The Imām Is Responsible for Me Before God! – The Dimension of Protection (Dhimma) Granted by Imām Yaḥyā to the Jews of Yemen.” In Mittuv Yosef: Yosef Tobi Jubilee Volume, Vol. 2: The Jews of Yemen: History and CultureA. Oettinger and D. Bar-Maoz. Haifa: University of Haifa, 2011, lxxxii-cii.

Encyclopedia Articles:

Hünefeld, Kerstin. Niẓām al-Yahūd (“The Statute of the Jews”). In Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World, ed. by Norman A. Stillman, Brill Online (accepted, forthcoming May 2022)

In the media and other (partly peer reviewed) publications:

Hünefeld, Kerstin. “Yūd, Nīnī al-ʿayin.” Tehuda 40 [Article collection in memory of Prof. Yehuda Nini] (2021): 329-333 (in Hebrew).

הינפלד, קרסטין.״יוד, ניני אל-עין,״ תהודה 40 (תשפ״א) 329-333 [אסופת מאמרים לכבוד פרופ׳ יהודה ניני ז״ל]  

Hünefeld, Kerstin. “Unit 2 Lesson 3: Imam Yahya and his Contract of Protection” [MOOC lecture]. In The Yemenite Experience. Online course in Hebrew and English, ed. by Danny Bar Maoz, Rachel Yadid, Drora Arussy, The American Sephardi Federation, Institute of Jewish Experience, May 2021.

Yemenite Queen Salon, a cultural initiative to promote Jewish and Muslim Yemeni art, music, and culture, with Ibi Ibrahim (visual artist and singer) Media coverage by DW عربية

Work in Progress:

Hünefeld, Kerstin. “The Turmoil of 1948 Ṣanʿāʾ from the viewpoint of two Yemeni Jewish sources.” al-Masār ­– fikriyya thaqafiyya

Hünefeld, Kerstin. “Discovering the Shariacate: Researching the relationship between Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn and the Jews of Twentieth Century Yemen from a Dhimma Space Perspective”

Invited Talks and Workshops:

 “Zaydi Law,” Project: CanCode: Canonization and Codification of Islamic Legal Texts, University of Bergen, Norway, workshop scheduled for 9-10 December 2021

Opening event of Qadmata – Young scholars Forum at Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem, scheduled for 11 November 2021 (respondent)

“Exploring Gendered Perspectives on Indonesia and the Middle East,” The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, scheduled for 24-25 October 2021 (chair)

“Yemeni Jews/Judaism and Migration: Classical and other Narratives,” Lecture series “Basiswissen Islam,” Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 10 November 2020, online Zoom

“Selves and Others in Early-Modern Islamic Law and Political Thought.” The Buber Society of Fellows Seminar, 14 December 2020.

“Dhimma as Action Space: Conceptualizing the Protection Relationship Between Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din (r. 1904-1948) and the Jews of Sanaa,” Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, 12 March 2019, Princeton University

“Zaydī Arguments Against Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Shawkānī’s Fatwa on the Worldly Judgement of Jewish Orphans and the Legitimacy of the Late Qāsimī Imamate,” Yemeni Manuscript Collections and Zaydi Studies, an international conference funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Institute for Advanced Study, 6-7 December 2018, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

“Ambivalent Aspects of Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn’s Dhimma Policy: Forced Conversion of Jewish Orphans, Its Islamic Legal Background and Inner-Yemeni Political Dimension,” first international conference on “The Jews of Yemen: Social and Cultural Changes,” 4-5 September 2016, Center for the Study of Yemeni Jewry, Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem (in Hebrew)

“Islamic Governance in Yemen: Imām Yaḥyā’s Protection of the Jews and the Negotiation of Power,” Research Colloquium on “the Jews of the Islamic World” with Norman Stillman Department of Jewish History and Culture, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, 28 July 2011, Munich, Germany

Ḥashiva meḥudeshet ʿal yaḥase he-ḥaśut (dhimma) – trumato shel Rabi Sālim Saʿīd al-Jamal le-havanat ha-maʾavaqim le-xoaḥ bi-yame shilton ha-Imām Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn,” international conference: “The Jews of Yemen: Marking 60 years since the Aliya of the Jews of Yemen in Operation ‘On Wings of Eagles’,” Bar Ilan University in cooperation with the Ben-Zvi Institute Jerusalem, 18-19 October 2010, Ramat-Gan, Israel (in Hebrew)

Workshop Organization:

“Order, Reorder, and Disorder: Jews and Muslims Encountering the Modern Era,” Gruss Colloquium at the Herbert D. Katz Center, University of Pennsylvania, October 2018 (co-organizer)


"From a Shariacate Context to a Dhimma-Space Concept: The Challenges of Researching the Jews of Twentieth-Century Zaydī-Yemen," Workshop: “Jews in the Muslim World: Histories, Memories, and Narratives,” Pennsylvania State University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev, 10 February 2021, online Zoom

 “Dhimma Space: The Protection Relationship Between Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn (1869-1948) and the Jews of Sanaa as a Socio-political ‘Field’,” The Yemenite Conference, organized by E’elah Be Tamar, the American Sephardi Federation and the Institute of Semitic Studies, Center for Jewish History, 3-5 July 2018, New York City, USA; this paper was also presented in revised form at the Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), 15-18 November 2018, San Antonio, Texas, USA

“Juggling Sharia Law: An Analytical Insight into the Pseudo-Epigraphic Letters of Protection from Yemen and their Jewish Authors’ Strategies of Empowerment,” Jewish-Islamic Forum at the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, international conference on “Jews in Muslim Majority Countries: History and Prospects,” 24-27 October 2017, Berlin, Germany

 “Imām Yaḥyā’s Letter of Protection and the Legal Matrix of Dhimma Space,” Center for the Study of Relations between Jews, Christians, Muslims, Second Annual International Conference: “Intercultural Exchange: Jews, Christians, Muslims,” 26-27 December 2012, Raanana, Israel

 “The Imam is Responsible for Me Before God! The Dimension of Protection (Dhimma) Granted by Imām Yaḥyā to the Jews of Yemen,” panel sponsored by the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, 44th Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), 18-21 November 2010, San Diego, Texas, USA

“The Protection Relationship (Dhimma) Revisited: Imām Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn and the Jews of Yemen,” World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES), 19-24 July 2010, Barcelona, Spain


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Arabic Language and Literature

An Introduction to Dhimma, scheduled for summer 2022 (in English)

Conceptualizing Dhimma law as part of the Islamic law of Nations (siyar): The Yemeni-Zaydi Example (in Hebrew)

Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Islamic Studies (taught in German)

Theory and method in Islamic studies

The concept of ‘sainthood’ (wilaya) in Sufism

Job prospects and expectations for Islamic studies graduates

Introduction to the Islamic law of nations (siyar) and the treatment of non-Muslims under Islamic jurisdiction

The prophet Muḥammad and the development of a specific Islamic self-perception

Introduction to methodology in Islamic Studies

State Islamic University Sunnan Kalijaga (UIN), Faculty of Theology, Yogyakarta/Indonesia

Modern Hebrew for beginners

Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Jewish Studies (in German)

The Jews of the Islamic world in modern and recent times

Jews as ‘protected people’ (Dhimmis) under Islamic rule

University of Potsdam, Institute of Jewish and Religious Studies (in German)

The Jews of the Islamic world from its beginning until modern times: History, Status, Relation