Ottoman Shaykh al-Islāms of the Nineteenth Century and their Intellectual Biographies

Foundational studies on Islamic legal history in the modern era have largely ignored ​​Ottoman legal thought and experience. This approach, which dominated the historiography of Islamic law written in the 20th century, prevents us from understanding the role played by fiqh in the Ottoman era, which shaped and guided the fields of law, economics and … Continue reading Ottoman Shaykh al-Islāms of the Nineteenth Century and their Intellectual Biographies

Weekend Scholarship Roundup

Radhika Kanchana addresses citizenship access to “outsiders” in Muslim-majority states in "How do Muslim States Treat their 'Outsiders'?: Is Islamic Practice of Naturalisation Synonymous with Jus Sanguinis?", Islamic Law & Law of the Muslim World eJournal, (originally published in Migration and Islamic Ethics: Issues of Residence, Naturalisation and Citizenship). Kanchana focuses mainly on the states’ practice … Continue reading Weekend Scholarship Roundup

PIL Fellowships 2020-2021 Announced! — Research + (new) Data Science Tracks

The Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School invites applications to its 2020-2021 Fellowship Program (due Jan. 31, 2020). Research Fellowships are designed to provide an intellectual home to promising young scholars in Islamic legal studies to advance their own research and to contribute to the intellectual life of the Program and the Harvard … Continue reading PIL Fellowships 2020-2021 Announced! — Research + (new) Data Science Tracks

Comparative law, the role of the judge, and the law theorized

In this final post reflecting on my primary source seminar “Readings in Islamic law,” I want to highlight three further topics covered in the course. The first of these is the genre of comparative law (khilāf), for which we read writings by Ibn al-Mundhir from the early fourth/tenth century, al-Kadamī from the fourth/tenth century, and … Continue reading Comparative law, the role of the judge, and the law theorized

Fatwas: diverse in form, diverse in reach

After the first session of my Islamic law seminar this fall, I chose the readings for each class with an eye on the particular interests of the enrolled students. Accordingly, of the three fatwas we read, spanning the fourteenth and twentieth centuries, the first reflected one student’s interest in medical ethics. The fatwa in question … Continue reading Fatwas: diverse in form, diverse in reach

Law in Action, in the Peripheral Vision of the Sources

In my last post I referenced Jack Tannous’s metaphor of “dark matter,” which draws our attention to the scattered traces of the vast majority of premodern Muslims who have left us few direct records of their opinions. In this post I’d like to suggest another metaphor, “peripheral vision.” We can think of the disciplines and … Continue reading Law in Action, in the Peripheral Vision of the Sources

Different genres, different approaches

For the first session of my graduate seminar “Readings in Islamic Law” this fall, I asked students to read two texts: a hadith on divorce initiated by the wife (al-Bukhārī, Kitāb al-Khulʿ, story of the wife of Thābit b. Qays) and a legal debate between Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī and al-Dāmaghānī in the eleventh century (from … Continue reading Different genres, different approaches

Folk Interpretation and the “Dark Matter” of Pre-Modern Islamic Law

In his recent book The Making of the Medieval Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2018), Jack Tannous draws attention to the overwhelming majority of “simple” Christians and Muslims with minimal exposure to (or interest in) the rarefied doctrinal issues that dominate the received history of Late Antique Christianity and early Islam. He argues that, like … Continue reading Folk Interpretation and the “Dark Matter” of Pre-Modern Islamic Law

:: Muwaṭṭaʾ Roundtable :: Journey of the Muwaṭṭaʾ in different periods of the history of South Asia: Shāh Walīyullāh’s Pursuit of Mālik

By Ebrahim Moosa (University of Notre Dame)  It is one of those twists of history that in a region famed for hosting the largest number of followers of the Ḥanafī school, and large numbers of the Shāfiʿī, Ahl al-Ḥadīth (salafī), Jaʿfarī, and Ismāʿīlī schools, South Asia can also boast a healthy interest in the Muwaṭṭaʾ … Continue reading :: Muwaṭṭaʾ Roundtable :: Journey of the Muwaṭṭaʾ in different periods of the history of South Asia: Shāh Walīyullāh’s Pursuit of Mālik

:: Muwaṭṭaʾ Roundtable :: Mālik, the Muwaṭṭa’, and Sunni Identity

By Jonathan Brown (Georgetown University)  I once found myself trapped on a phone call with an exercised adherent of the Ḥanafī school of Islamic law who made it clear that the conversation was not going to end until I acknowledged that Abū Ḥanīfa (d. 767), the school’s founder, was the greatest Hadith scholar in Islamic … Continue reading :: Muwaṭṭaʾ Roundtable :: Mālik, the Muwaṭṭa’, and Sunni Identity