A Note to 2020 Graduates and the Community

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A Note from the Director

[Updated 06.07.2020]

Congratulations to the class of 2020! All of us at the Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School extend a hearty congratulations on your extraordinary accomplishments in your time here at Harvard, and particularly this last semester where you have shown yourself to be an exceptional class in exceptional times. These times provide an opportunity for a collective conscientious pause [see video, below].

Consider: how can you best use the knowledge and skills you gained during your time here in Islamic law and history, American law and history, or other fields of inquiry?

It is a solemn and unfortunately increasingly necessary duty to—when you see injustice—change it with your hands, head, and heart. I recently joined 65 of my colleagues in seeking to do just that: we are speaking out against the abuse of authority and public incitement to violence, and in support of the struggles for justice through protest and through ensuring that public servants govern lawfully and morally.  [Update: Since we first published this letter on June 1, 2020, at the request of other faculty members, lecturers, and law librarians, we opened the letter to further signatures. The letter now features over 160 signatures from Harvard Law School faculty and instructors. This overwhelming and unprecedented chorus among a diverse group of legal minds underscores the unprecedented nature and significance of these times, the pressing need to clarify the record about the unlawfulness of the president and other public servants abusing office by promoting public violence, and the collective obligation to fight for justice.]

We recognize the need both for the life of the mind, and for mindfulness of the value of life, and for access to justice in it. We thus encourage students and graduates to use all the learning and tools at their disposal to join the fight for justice. More pointedly, the tragic murder of George Floyd, his heartbreaking plea for life, and the many painful events of public violence over the past week have underscored the realities of structural racism and the urgent need to speak and act against it.

As you commence on a new path, we congratulate you on good work accomplished here, and commend you to work in the future that will take the best of the perspectives and tools you have gained here to make a positive difference in the world, toward justice.

Intisar Rabb, Professor of Law, Program Director | 06.01.2020


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