Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School’s Program in Islamic Law is dedicated to promoting cutting-edge research and providing access to interdisciplinary resources on the academic study of Islamic law, with an emphasis on legal history, law and society, and comparative law. The Program facilitates and sponsors individual scholarly research and collaborative research projects. It also sponsors lectures, workshops, conferences, and other events to both facilitate exchange among scholars and to educate the HLS, HU, and broader intellectual community. The geographic area of interest of the Program includes the local, national, and global, spanning both Muslim majority and minority communities in regions such as the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The Program is neither a religious nor an advocacy organization, but rather aims to foster excellence in the study of Islamic law in an atmosphere of open inquiry.

The Program supports the Islamic law collection in the Harvard Law School Library, and provides faculty, students, and visitors the opportunity to take advantage of Harvard’s unparalleled library holdings. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of junior and senior scholars of Islamic law, who are also able to access the Library’s rich store of Islamic law materials. The Student Support Program provides scholarships and research grants for several students at Harvard Law School each year.

Harvard Law School’s Program in Islamic Law is directed by Professors Intisar Rabb and Kristen Stilt. The Program has two components. ILSP: SHARIAsource is directed by Intisar Rabb. ILSP: Law and Social Change is directed by Kristen A. Stilt, with Ceallaigh Reddy serving as its Program Administrator.

Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School

Under the direction of Law School Sterling Professors Owen Fiss and Anthony T. Kronman, the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School consists of the following components:

A lecture series on Islamic law and civilization: The lecture series continues the successful Dallah Albaraka Lectures on Islamic Law & Civilization, now the Abdallah S. Kamel Lectures on Islamic Law & Civilization, which have been hosted by the Law School for the past two years. The series will bring scholars, writers, and practitioners in a range of disciplines to Yale University for public lectures and discussions.

Research fellowships for fellows in residence at the Law School: The fellows will contribute to the intellectual life of the Law School while also building relationships among colleagues at the university.

Visiting professorships: The Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School will host distinguished scholars in the field of Islamic law and civilization who will spend a semester at the Law School to teach courses in their area of expertise. Visiting professors will also offer public lectures and engage with students and faculty at the Law School and Yale University.

Student fellowships for advanced studies: Student fellowships will support research, travel, and training for students engaged in projects related to Islamic law and civilization.

Understanding Sharī'a - Past Perfect, Imperfect Present

This two year project addresses how Muslim legal scholars have used the idea of a perfect past to try and change the imperfect present. Islamic legal thought has always stressed the importance of previous example – legal scholars often refer to the “example of the Prophet” or “established tradition or custom” to justify a rule. This project focuses on these uses of the past, and tries to show how they are changing and how the past is being used to support legal change and reform in contemporary Muslim discourse.

Funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) under their USES OF THE PAST programme, the project is a collaboration of four institutions: the Universities of Exeter, Leiden, Göttingen and Bergen, and in each institution an established academic (Robert Gleave, Léon Buskens, Irene Schneider and Knut Vikør) works with a postdoctoral researcher; they meet for both academic and public events every six months (with each institution hosting at least one event), involving both academics and practitioners. Project members at each institution will explore one theme of Islamic law in the modern period; Exeter will focus on violence, Leiden on custom, Göttingen on gender and Bergen on the state.  Particular attention will be paid to the uses of the past; the ways in which the Islamic legal tradition is invoked, contested and appealed to in modern argument, how it is presented and whether patterns are discernible in its deployment and whether these patterns shift over time.

Journal: Islamic Law and Society

Editor In Chief: David S. Powers

Islamic Law and Society provides a forum for research in the field of classical and modern Islamic law, in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. The Islamic Law and Society has established itself as an invaluable resource for the subject both in the private collections of scholars and practitioners as well as in the major research libraries of the world. The Islamic Law and Society encourages discussion on all branches of Islamic law, with a view to promoting an understanding of Islamic law, in both theory and practice, from its emergence until modern times and from juridical, historical and social-scientific perspectives.