The MEI offers regular programing on topics related to Islamic law through its “Sharīʿa
Workshop,” a series launched in 2015. The workshop brings together faculty and graduate
students from Columbia and other universities in the region for intensive discussions of new
research by leading specialists invited from the US and abroad.
The workshop is by invitation only and is based on pre-circulated papers read in advance of the session. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to be put on the workshop invitation list or receive the papers.
Islamic Legal Canons as Interpretive Precedent: The Curious Case of Bughaybigha, 661-882
Intisar A. Rabb is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a director of its Islamic Legal Studies Program. She also holds an appointment as a Professor of History at Harvard University and as Susan S. And Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Ottoman Venality, or Tax Farming of Judicial Offices in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1700-1839
Jun Akiba specializes in Ottoman history during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with a focus on the judiciary, judicial administration and related educational institutions. His current projects include a book on Ottoman sharia courts and, with Cemal Kafadar, a study of Ottoman self-narratives. Forthcoming articles treat girls schools and female teachers in pre-Tanzimat Istanbul and sharia judges in the nizamiye system.
Working for the government in Early Islamic Jurisprudence
Rob Gleave is Professor of Arabic Studies and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam (CSI), IAIS, University of Exeter. Gleave is currently Principal Investigator of 2 major projects: Understanding Shari’a: Past Present Imperfect Present (www.usppip.eu) and Law and Learning in Imami Shi’ite Islam (LAWALISI). We will discuss his precirculated paper. To receive a copy, contact email@example.com.
Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History
Beshara Doumani is a Professor of History and Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. His research focuses on groups, places, and time periods marginalized by mainstream scholarship on the early modern and modern Middle East. He also writes on the topics of displacement, academic freedom, politics of knowledge production, and the Palestinian condition. His books include Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History, Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900, Academic Freedom After September 11 (editor), and Family History in the Middle East: Household, Property and Gender (editor). He is the editor of a book series, New Directions in Palestinian Studies, with the University of California Press.
Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and History, will introduce Doumani. Commentary by Baber Johansen, Professor of Islamic Religious Studies, Harvard Divinity School, and Brinkley Messick, Professor of Anthropology and MESAAS and Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia, will follow the talk.
Codifying the Law: The Case of the Medieval Islamic West
Maribel Fierro is Research Professor at the Centre of Human and Social Sciences at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC – Spain). She has worked and published on the political, religious and intellectual history of al-Andalus and the Islamic West, on Islamic law, and on violence and its representation in Medieval Arabic sources. Among her recent publications: The Almohad revolution. Politics and religion in the Islamic West during the twelfth-thirteenth centuries, Variorum, 2012, and Knowledge, heresy and politics in the Medieval Islamic West (forthcoming). She is the editor of volume 2 (The Western Islamic world, eleventh-eighteenth centuries) of the The New Cambridge History of Islam, Cambridge University Press, 2010; Orthodoxy and heresy in Islam: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies (4 vols., Routledge, 2013); with J. Tolan of The legal status of dimmi-s in the Islamic West (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013) and with H. Ansari, C. Adang and S. Schmidtke of Accusations of unbelief in Islam: A diachronic perspective on takfir (Leiden: Brill, 2015).
Islamic Law as a Discursive Tradition
Dr. Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim is assistant professor of Islamic law at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies in Montreal, Canada. He holds a BA from al-Azhar University, an MA from the American University in Cairo, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Georgetown University (2011). His research interests include juristic discourse and court practice in both the formative period of Islamic law and the post-classical Mamluk and Ottoman periods. He has recently completed a book manuscript on the theory and practice of child custody in Ottoman Egypt and the role social perceptions of the family and the child’s best interests influenced judicial practice, leading to tensions with the jurisprudence of author-jurists. He is currently working on two book manuscripts entitled, “Judicial Custom in Islamic Law: A Theory of Practice,” and “Child Adoption in Early Modern Egypt.” He is the author of Pragmatism in Islamic Law: A Social and Intellectual History (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2017). His last two projects have been supported with research grants from the Fonds de recherché du Quebec—Societe et Culture (FRQSC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
Justice and Islamic Law: The 'Ulama', Mazalim Courts and Legal Reform in Islamic History
Dr. Guy Burak is the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Librarian at NYU's Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. He is the author of The Second Formation of Islamic Law: The Hanafi School in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2015). He has written several articles on Ottoman Islamic law and is currently working on a monograph on the history of Kanun/Qanun in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Middle East.
Dr. Jonathan Brown is the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. He has widely published on Hadith, Islamic Law, Salafism, Sufism, Arabic lexical theory, and Pre-Islamic poetry. His most recent book Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy (Oneworld, 2014) was named one of the top books on religion in 2014 by The Independent. Dr. Brown serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam, and his current research includes Islamic legal reform and a translation of Sahih al-Bukhari.
Legal Change and Scientific Change: Structural Similarities and Evolutionary Models
Behnam Sadeghi specializes in the early centuries of Islamic religion and teaches courses on pre-modern intellectual history at Stanford University. He has done research on the early history of the Qur'an, the hadith literature, and the early legal debates about women in the public space. His doctoral dissertation examined methods of textual interpretation applied in the Hanafi school of law in the pre-modern period.
The realism of the Law: Social Scientific Knowledge and Religious Reform in Contemporary Islam
Alexandre Caeiro is Assistant Professor at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha. He received his PhD in religious studies from Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2011, with a dissertation on the development of the Muslim jurisprudence of minorities. His research deals primarily with the modern transformations of Islamic normativity.
Two Hitherto Unknown Texts on the Formation of Islamic Legal Theory
Ahmed El Shamsy studies the intellectual history of Islam, focusing on Islamic law and theology, cultures of orality and literacy, and classical Islamic education. He is particularly interested in the changing ways that religious authority has been constructed and interpreted in the Muslim tradition. He is currently working on a book on the early evolution of Islamic law and its institutions in ninth-century Egypt. El Shamsy received his PhD from Harvard University in 2009, an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He was awarded the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm H. Kerr Award for his dissertation, which examines the birth of the Shafi‘i school of Islamic law. His recent publications include articles on legal conformism, the Shafi‘i school, and Islamic theology and hermeneutics.