Roundtable on Islamic Legal History and Historiography: Week in Review

On December 10, 2020, the Islamic Law Blog launched its Roundtable on Islamic Legal History & Historiography: Methods and Meaning in Islamic Law, edited by Intisar Rabb (Editor-in-Chief) and Mariam Sheibani (Lead Blog Editor). The Roundtable’s inaugural introductory essay Methods and Meaning in Islamic Law: Introduction,” is authored by Intisar Rabb, who succinctly introduces the themes and purpose of the roundtable, highlighting the most significant developments in the field from the mid-19th century to the present. Launched in December 2020, the Roundtable will continue through January 2021, and culminate in a live discussion in March via Zoom. This week, we featured one essay. Here it is below in case you missed it:

The twenty-first contribution, titled “The continuum approach: Multiple legal solutions to run a diverse empire” is by Petra Sijpesteijn (Leiden University).  In her contribution, Sijpesteijn focuses on two recent developments in the fields of law and history that enrich our grasp of how Islamic law historically operated in larger contexts. The first development is the increased scholarly attention to “empire studies.”  Early Islamic conquests, culminating in Abbasid rule that spanned diverse geographies, and consequently, diverse religions and cultures, resulted in numerous possibilities for interaction between Islamic law and other religious and customary laws. That fact renders the study of “Islamicate law-making” one of a far more complex and interactive social reality than typically appreciated. The second development is the increased availability of digital documentary sources. New online platforms offer users access to thousands of documents, and thus now serve a crucial role in the field of Islamic law and history. Appropriately used, these documentary sources and digital platforms will help legal and social historians make the promising move of restoring “the medieval world of intertwined legal practices and thought in multiple languages, geographical, and religious domains.”

Please join us in thanking our contributing scholar, Petra Sijpesteijn for her thought-provoking contribution. Next week we look forward to publishing new essay contributions to the Roundtable. Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply