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Afghanistan Rising: Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires

Author: Faiz Ahmed, Associate Professor of History, Brown University

Moderator: Mariam Sheibani, Visiting Fellow, Program in Islamic Law, Harvard Law School

Respondent: Malika Zeghal, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life

In Afghanistan Rising, Faiz Ahmed presents a vibrant account of Afghanistan, the first Muslim-majority country to gain independence, codify its own laws, and ratify a constitution after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. He illustrates how turn-of-the-twentieth-century Kabul—far from being a landlocked wilderness or remote frontier—became a magnet for itinerant scholars and administrators shuttling between Ottoman and British imperial domains. Tracing the country’s longstanding but often ignored scholarly and educational ties to Baghdad, Damascus, and Istanbul as well as greater Delhi and Lahore, Ahmed explains how the court of Kabul attracted thinkers eager to craft a modern state within the interpretive traditions of Islamic law and ethics, or shariʿa, and international norms of legality.

Lunch will be provided. RSVP to PIL@law.harvard.edu.