Islamic Law Speaker Series Last month, our Islamic Law Speaker Series (ILSS) continued with Professor Youcef L. Soufi (University of Toronto) joining us to give a book talk on his recent monography The Rise of Critical Islam: 10th-13th Century Legal Debate (Oxford University Press, 2023). In his work, Soufi examines ways in which historians can excavate an Islamic legal culture of critique from the 10th to 13th centuries. Focusing on the practice of munāẓara (disputation), he discussed how and why oral debates became a pervasive and revered part of the intellectual legal landscape of Iraq and Persia. Pushing back against claims that classical Muslim jurists sought to weed out differences of opinion, he posits a community committed to openness, fluidity, and continued exploration of Islamic law. In uncovering this classical legal culture, Soufi invites us to question claims about the promise of secular critique in disciplining religious passions and forging human solidarity. 

If you missed his book talk, you’re in luck because the video is now online! Watch the video today and, if you’re interested in hearing more talks on Islamic law, check out our other ILSS videos!



CONTENT: Islamic Legal Maxims One aim of SHARIAsource is to provide access to primary and secondary sources of Islamic law to support research on salient issues of Islamic law and history. We recently added an excerpt from the appendix titled “Uṣūl al-Karkhī with Translation” in Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee’s Islamic Legal Maxims (Advanced Legal Studies Institute, 2013). This book is about qawāʿid fiqhiyya (Islamic legal canons), which Nyazee defines as principles significant to Islamic legal systems throughout history. He aims to “explain the meaning of selected qawāʿid and their operation” historically and argues that the relationship between uṣūl al-fiqh (jurisprudence) and qawāʿid fiqhiyya is like “the relationship between the two arms of the human body; they cooperate with each other to yield the rules of fiqh.” Throughout the book, Nyazee attempts to move the needle on this understudied field of Islamic law. Check it out here!



CONTEXT: The SHARIAsource Lab  What are the origins of Islamic legal canons (qawāʿid fiqhiyya) and how did they spread over time? How can we better understand legal canons as tools for interpretation in historical contexts and how they functioned? In what ways can data science tools aid us in examining legal canons as sources for social and legal history? These are some of the questions that have guided our SHARIAsource Lab this year. Led by Professor Intisar Rabb, the Lab brings together scholars, data scientists, and students to experiment with our suite of research tools. Our primary project this year has been to build and prepare data to facilitate search tools designed to track Islamic legal canons (qawāʿid fiqhiyya) as memes across various works of history and law. This semester, we made strides in identifying and tagging legal canons from historical works to offer new ways to access these older texts. Read about our progress  today! 


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