Luke Yarbrough

A photo of Luke Yarbrough
E-mail: Office: Kaplan Hall 394

Associate Professor

Fields of Interest: Early and Medieval Islamic History and Thought, Islamic Legal Systems, Inter-religious Relations


  • PhD, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, 2012
  • MA, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, 2008
  • Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), 2004–5
  • AB, History (certificates in Near Eastern Studies and Medieval Studies), Princeton University, 2004


Luke Yarbrough is a scholar of early and medieval Islamic history and thought. His research interests include inter-religious relations, hadith studies, Arabic historiography, premodern state administration, and manuscript studies. His monograph, Friends of the Emir: Non-Muslim State Officials in Islamic Thought  (Cambridge University Press, 2019) documents, contextualizes, and attempts to explain what premodern Muslims wrote about the many influential non-Muslims who helped run their governments. The book was a runner-up for the 2020 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize.

He has also published a critical edition and translation of a polemical treatise by a disgruntled Egyptian bureaucrat, entitled The Sword of Ambition (New York University Press, 2016), and has co-edited two volumes: Minorities in Contact in the Medieval Mediterranean (Brepols, 2020) and Conversion to Islam in the Premodern Age (University of California Press, 2020). He teaches the undergraduate courses “Islam and Other Religions,” “Making and Studying the Modern Middle East,” and “Islamic Thought,” as well as graduate seminars on research methods in Islamic Studies, Islamic advice literature, and Islamic manuscripts.

He earned his PhD in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, working under Michael Cook and Mark R. Cohen. Before coming to UCLA, he was Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO), where he taught courses on the Middle East, the medieval Mediterranean, and world history. In 2012, he was a research fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2016–17, he was a Humanities Research Fellow at New York University, Abu Dhabi. In 2020–21, he co-organized the research group Cultural Brokerage in Premodern Islam at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.





  • Islam and Other Religions (Islamic Studies M115)
  • Islamic Thought (Islamic Studies 151)
  • Making and Studying the Modern Middle East (Middle East Studies M50C/Anthropology M50C)


  • The Arabo-Islamic Tradition (Islamic Studies 201)
  • Encountering Arabic Manuscripts (Arabic 275)