Welcome to our June Guest Bloggers: Robert Gleave and Kumail Rajani

Robert Gleave is Principal Investigator of the Law, Authority and Learning In Imami Shiite Islam project (LAWALISI), based at the University of Exeter, a five-year project funded by the European research Council (www.lawalisi.eu).  His main research has been in Shi’i legal developments in the premodern period, with an occasional foray in the 20th and even 21st centuries.  … Continue reading Welcome to our June Guest Bloggers: Robert Gleave and Kumail Rajani

Skullduggery, Literature, and the Legal Imagination

By Matthew L. Keegan How do we imagine the law? What shapes our sense of how the legal system operates? In a culture saturated with television narratives, one clear avenue for shaping the imagined law is the various franchises and spin-offs of television shows like Law & Order and CSI, which give viewers a heavily … Continue reading Skullduggery, Literature, and the Legal Imagination

Moral Registers in Islamic Law, Adab, and Ethics

By Matthew L. Keegan Islamic law is one among several Islamic discourses and normative discourses that intermingled with Islamic epistemes and ecumenes in the pre-modern world. In Marion Holmes Katz's recent monograph, readers encounter a sophisticated reading of the intersecting and divergent approaches of law, asceticism, and Islamic philosophical ethics. As she demonstrates in one … Continue reading Moral Registers in Islamic Law, Adab, and Ethics

Riddles, Influence, and Borrowing from Rival Legal Schools

By Matthew L. Keegan How did scholars from different Sunnī legal schools respond to and interact with the scholarship of other schools? The answer to this question, of course, depends upon the particular historical context, the institutional strength of one school or another, the social context of education, and other factors. In some places and … Continue reading Riddles, Influence, and Borrowing from Rival Legal Schools

Why Study Islamic Legal Riddles?

By Matthew L. Keegan When I first came across a chapter on legal riddles in the Kitāb al-Ashbāh wa’l-Naẓāʾir of Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563) in graduate school, I was immediately fascinated. I had never heard of the genre and could find little about it. The riddles themselves had a playful literariness to them, which appealed … Continue reading Why Study Islamic Legal Riddles?

Welcome to our May Guest Blogger: Matthew L. Keegan

Matthew L. Keegan is the Moinian Assistant Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College of Columbia University. His research program explores the intersections of Islamic law and Arabic literature. He has published articles on Islamic legal riddles, Quranic exegesis, the commentary tradition around al-Ḥarīrī’s Maqāmāt, and the prose and poetry of the … Continue reading Welcome to our May Guest Blogger: Matthew L. Keegan

Fragments of Provincial Life

By Lev Weitz For social historians, legal sources have been among the most captivating, tried-and-true means to get at the microhistorical detail of everyday life in times past. In the final essay of this series, I’ll consider what Arabic legal documents can offer as sources for medieval social history. We’ll return to the region of … Continue reading Fragments of Provincial Life

Tracing the Judicial Infrastructure of a Rural Province

By Lev Weitz In my last essay on using digitized sources and databases for historical research with Arabic documents, I used the Arabic Papyrology Database (APD) to discern a concentration of contracts of sale originating from the southern Fayyūm Oasis in late ʿAbbāsid and Fāṭimid Egypt. In this essay, I’ll take a look at these … Continue reading Tracing the Judicial Infrastructure of a Rural Province

Documentary Sources and Islamic Legal History: The View from the Provinces

By Lev Weitz For the past three decades, scholars have enriched the study of premodern Islamic law with a growing enthusiasm for ‘law in action’[1]—law not only as the sharʿī norms laid down and debated in juristic treatises,[2] but as the processes and practices through which judges, muftīs, and everyday litigants interacted with those norms … Continue reading Documentary Sources and Islamic Legal History: The View from the Provinces

Welcome to our April Guest Blogger: Lev Weitz

Lev Weitz is a historian of the Islamic Middle East. His scholarly interests lie in the encounters among Muslims, Christians, and Jews that have shaped the Middle East’s history from the coming of Islam to the present. He is the author of Between Christ and Caliph: Law, Marriage, and Christian Community in Early Islam (University of Pennsylvania … Continue reading Welcome to our April Guest Blogger: Lev Weitz