As a part of its mission of promoting research and providing resources to advance the academic study of Islamic law, the Program in Islamic Law supports projects that provide both content and context in the field in ways that are accessible and useful. Our focus is on traditional scholarship as well as on AI and new data science tools that will expand access to knowledge and facilitate new research and analysis in the field.
The SHARIAsource Portal provides a window into the digital world of Islamic legal studies, with a growing set of texts and AI/data science tools that will enable researches to better explore and access the sources in this field. It allows researchers to contribute primary sources on Islamic law and history, covering new developments in the field (from modern courts and legislatures to historical papers or archival records), to curate entire collections, and to utilize the sources and collections freely available in a well-curated and high-quality environment of sources for texts (now) and tools (to come) on Islamic law and history.
Courts&Canons (CnC) is suite of data science tools that facilitates research and insights into Islamic law and the motivating values behind it, across space and time. A CnC Data-Entry tool will simplify the process of collecting and relating information about people, laws, places and more through a complex relational database built for specifically for this field to house key decision-makers (judges, jurists, and other historical figures) and the works they produced (cases, books, and other historical works). A data analytics tool called CnC-Qayyim will allow researchers to conduct text analytics on Islamic sources that they own or to which they have open access. Our focus on building the tool is on the intersection between interpretive principles called Islamic legal canons and every other field of Islamic scholarship. That is, we will trace legal canons as memes across works of history, literature, biography and more, in addition to law. Through the suite of CnC tools, we aim to build and deploy a set of AI and other data science tools to facilitate new research in fields of Islamic law and Islamic studies writ large.
SEARCHstrata will offer a more robust search of the Harvard Libraries’ Islamic collections — the largest academic collection in the world — together with a virtual browser of it, and a collections curator. Users around the globe will be able to view the material housed in this library, as will collaborating institutions in the future who add additional sources on Islamic law (legislation, court cases, fatwas) and create their own “shelves” in a virtual library. The data science tools in development are designed by and with scholars in the field to make possible close and distant reading of historical and contemporary texts.