Message from the Director

The Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School is pleased to announce that Mona Rahmani has joined the Program as our new Associate Director. Mona comes to Harvard with deep experience and vast background in data-driven research, international relations, and higher education administration. She brings these skills to the growing community of Islamic law scholars, students, and data scientists working with the Program in its mission to advance research and provide resources in the study of Islamic law, by combining Islam with data science. We are particularly excited about the unique skills that she brings to guide a range of exciting new projects. Mona will be critical to shaping new projects that both preserve the best of the traditional ways of sharing knowledge, such as our fellowship programs and public events, and promise to change the way we think about building and sharing new types of knowledge with innovative methods in digitization and data science.

The imperative to rethink research and resources for Islamic law and history, among other fields, could be no more important today—with the advent of data science tools that can be mapped onto and present new possibilities for these fields. Given the unprecedented changes that COVID-19 has wrought among people and in educational and other institutions worldwide, the imperative to approach this field of study with renewed focus on the global community is clear. To that end, we are excited to launch new work on initiatives that will enable remote library browsing (StackLife 2.0) and enable researchers and students to collaborate remotely on map and explore historical cases and interpretive tools (Courts & Canons)—with more details to come in the coming weeks and months. Mona is fantastically well suited to steer our work in this new era, and bring these projects, and others, to the next phase. She comes most recently from the data strategy group at Dow Jones, where she specialized in sanctions research, Western Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She previously served as a Senior Research Specialist at Princeton University’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, where she directed the Center’s inaugural years of academic programs and projects.

We are pleased to announce new members of the community and continuing initiatives joining Mona during these times: Sohaib Baig of UCLA will come to Harvard as our incoming 2020-2021 Research Fellow; and several scholars of Islamic law globally are newly slated to join the cohort of global editors and Harvard students actively working on research in the field. We thank Jenna Cowie for her work in providing program assistance, and welcome Henry Shull as the new Program Assistant. Our work goes on, even with the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Zoom has become a friend to remote collaboration and education; we’re working with a global community of scholars to expand the resources available on the SHARIAsource Portal, and we’ll keep you updated on our own continuing programming and online resources for Islamic law and history research at our dedicated PIL/Covid-19 updates website (including online guides for remote research in Islamic law, Middle East and Islamic Studies, and Arabic monographs).

We are grateful and hopeful. We are grateful to be able to carry on the research and other exciting work that we do with the addition of and warm welcome to an expanding community with which to do it. We are hopeful that we and the world will keep an eye on and help address the most vulnerable who lack good health, a safe haven, and secure work or access to resources. We look forward to working with all scholars and fellows, staff and students in both veins. With best wishes that all keep healthy and safe and mindful during these times.

~Intisar Rabb, Faculty Director

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