Weekend Scholarship Roundup

  • Ioannis Glinavos‘s “Hagia Sophia at ICSID? The Limits of Sovereign Discretion” ((July 29, 2020), SSRN) looks at the recent conversion of the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque (which the Islamic Law Blog extensively covered) from an international investment law angle. The author argues that there might be a violation of the bilateral investment treaty between Switzerland and Turkey on the part of Turkish authorities, given that a Swiss company had held the rights to operate the site as a museum prior to the conversion, and moreover, since the Swiss company had assurances to its right to operate the site as a museum for seven more years. Glinavos contends that Turkey’s rather sudden move to convert the museum into a mosque can be construed as a disruption to the Swiss company’s businesses, which, in turn, would trigger a potential investment treaty violation.
  • In “The UAE and Responsible Finance—Can Responsible Finance Ṣukūk Help the UAE in Fulfilling Its Sustainability Ambitions?” (Arab Law Quarterly,  (2020)), Edana Richardson examines the UAE’s responsible finance sukuk policy, which the author defines as a capital market instrument that is at once Islamic law-compliant and in furtherance of green and sustainable economic activity. The author notes, while the sukuk market has grown over the years, citing Malaysia and Indonesia as cases in point, the UAE has exhibited a slower progress compared to other Muslim-majority countries. To Richardson, this stems not from any lack of enthusiasm for the enterprise on the part of UAE officials, but rather from the lack of a central authority providing clear and accessible guidance on the matter. 
  • Nurfadzilah Yahaya‘s recently published book, titled Fluid Jurisdictions: Colonial Law and Arabs in Southeast Asia (Cornell University Press, 2020), sheds light on how colonial administration of the institution of philanthropy, in the form of implementing distorted rules of the Islamic waqf, roughly defined as an Islamic charitable institution,  resulted in dispossession for many Muslims in Southeast Asia.
  • In her introductory post for an academic forum on waqfs titled “Introducing HistPhil’s Forum on Waqfs,” Maribel Morey questions the widespread assumption that philanthropy is a western institution which invokes images of Bill Gates to the average American mind. “But this is a shame,” writes Morey, because academics such as herself should, again in her own words, be “creating more inclusive understandings of what it means to practice and study philanthropy.” She then goes on to introduce how the work of her colleagues strives to do just that, including Yahaya’s recently published book mentioned above.
  • Saad Hasan‘s “How the British Empire abandoned its most vocal Muslim supporter” ((September 3, 2019), Trt World) takes a closer look at the curious life of Abdullah Yusuf Ali, whose Qur’ān translation from the early twentieth century is among the most-read translations of the Muslim holy book,  and who, despite having been an ardent supporter of the British forces during the First World War, was left to die alone and homeless. Hasan documents how this influential figure in shaping British-Muslim politics has been largely forgotten from the collective cultural memory of Britain.

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