IN SUMMARY:: Policy Roundtable: Understanding Sharīʿa: Implications for Policy and Conflict Resolution 

Policy Roundtable  :: Understanding Sharia: Implications for Policy and Conflict Resolution | Tues, Dec 13 | 12.00 noon-1.45p. Co-sponsored by Harvard Law School, Islamic Legal Studies Program: SHARIAsource and the United States Institute of Peace.

Intisar Rabb, Founding Editor-In-Chief, SHARIAsource, Professor of Law, HLS

Leila Mooney, Senior Program Officer, Center for Governance, Law and Society, USIP

Palwasha Karkar, Senior Program Officer, Religion and Inclusive Societies, USIP

Manal Omar, Associate Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, USIP

This roundtable highlights understandings of sharīʿa (Islamic law) as they apply to the development and critique of policies designed to solve conflicts. The program consists of experts on Islamic law and foreign policy in discussion with a diverse range of policy makers and practitioners. The conversation was designed to convey a basic overview of sharīʿa, to offer a few case studies of its application in the U.S. and abroad, and to gain ideas about what policy makers need from academics to better inform their work on specific issues that intersect with Islamic law to solve conflicts.

A policy roundtable on Islamic law, co-sponsored by the Islamic Legal Studies Program: SHARIAsource and the United States Institute of Peace, and held on December 13 at USIP, was a first-of its-kind program that brought together a broad cross-section of individuals working in federal government, academic, and non-governmental organizations on policy issues related to Islamic law. The program focused on exploring the major features, structures, and processes of law-making in Islamic law historically and in the present. Manal Omar (USIP) moderated the session. Intisar Rabb (Harvard Law School) provided an overview of Islamic law and highlighted, through her telling of an early case in Islamic law that highlights the role of doubt during Islam’s “founding period,” the pluralism and fluidity of interpretation stemming from Islamic law’s multiple sources, interpreters, and institutional structures. For more on the story and it historical significance, see her book on Doubt in Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Lelia Mooney (USIP) added insights from her work leading the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL), which focuses on advancing global peace initiatives and often needs to draw on Islamic law insights in ways that provide context and solutions for ongoing conflicts. Finally, Palwasha Karkar (USIP) briefly detailed her work in advancing methods of inclusion in Afghanistan and other Muslim majority countries in ways that similarly draw on Islamic law to promote women’s participation and inclusion in local educational and societal institutions. The remainder of the program featured a robust discussion of questions and answers on Islamic law and policy. The practitioners in attendance also offered ideas for how SHARIAsource scholars could provide academic research on Islamic law that is accessible to policy makers, with a near-consensus of the increasing relevance and utility of such access for better informed policy decisions in the coming months and years.