The Program in Islamic Law is devoted to the academic study of Islamic law at Harvard Law School. PIL is not a degree-granting institution, and it does not admit students. To be a student at Harvard University, interested applicants must apply to the appropriate school of interest. Harvard Law School offers JD degrees to students with a bachelor’s degree who successfully meet the admission requirements. The HLS Graduate Program is the division of Harvard Law School responsible for the Master of Laws (LLM) and the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degrees. The History Department offers Masters (MA) and Doctor in Philosophy (PhD) degrees, as does the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. For other programs, please visit HLS Admissions or Harvard FAS Graduate Admissions.
Islamic Law Courses
Course Number: HDS 3177
Course Title: Religion and Society in Islamicate History (900-1300 CE) from Shiʿi Centuries to Mongol Invasions
Instructor: Shiraz Hajiani
In this advanced level multi-disciplinary course, we will unpack the complex histories of societies and study the socio-political, intellectual and theological developments from the Shiʿi Centuries to the Mongol Invasions. We will examine the crystallisation of Ithnaʿashari Shiʿism. We will survey the challenges of Fatimid and Nizari Ismaili thought as well as their religio-political conflicts and relations with the Sunni Abbasid-Saljuq establishment. We will probe the contexts and impetus for the emergence of Sunni hegemony. We will explore the rise of Alid loyalism and the spread of Sufi ṭarīqahs (orders). We will analyse the formation of nomadic empires and their impacts on religion and societies. We will scrutinize the shifts in legitimations of political authority in relation to the Prophet Muhammad to Chinggisid legitimations of rule after the twin decapitations by the Mongols of the Nizari polity in Iran (1256) and the Abbasid caliphate (1258).
Course Number: MIT 21H.160
Course Title: African Religion in the Diaspora
Instructor: Pouya Alimagham
This course focuses on the history and phenomenology of African peoples’ religious experiences in the Americas. The historical and social processes that led to the emergence of African diasporic religions in Latin America and the Caribbean will form the core of our reading materials. Using a thematic approach, we will examine the role of myth, ritual, arts, and symbols as well as the social and political processes that explain the evolution of Black Atlantic religious traditions as formed by African indigenous traditions, African Christianity, and African Islam.
Course Number: MIT 4 .619
Course Title: Historiography of Islamic Art and Architecture
Instructor: Huma Gupta
Critical review of literature on Islamic art and architecture in the last two centuries. Analyzes the cultural, disciplinary, and theoretical contours of the field and highlights the major figures that have influenced its evolution. Challenges the tacit assumptions and biases of standard studies of Islamic art and architecture and addresses historiographic and critical questions concerning how knowledge of a field is defined, produced, and reproduced.