ILSS: Dilyara Agisheva

On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via ZoomDillyara Agisheva (Harvard Law School) will present “The Entangled Legal Formations and the Russian annexation of Crimea in the 18th century” as part of our Islamic Law Speaker Series. Based on Agisheva’s dissertation research, the presentation examines the legal structures in the Crimean Peninsula after its annexation by the Russian Empire in 1783. Her research relies on two primary sources: the Crimean Sharīʿa sicils (Islamic court records) and the court records of Russian legal venues introduced in Crimea after the annexation. Using the methodological approaches found in the studies of entangled histories, law and empire, and colonialism, Agisheva suggests a conceptual framework she calls “entangled legal formations” to explain legal transformations in Crimea at the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

ILSS: Elizabeth Lhost

On Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via ZoomElizabeth Lhost (Dartmouth College) will give a book talk on her recent publication Everyday Islamic Law and the Making of Modern South Asia (University of North Carolina Press 2022). In this book, Lhost addresses how histories of Islamic law and legal practice in British-ruled India tend to focus on the evolution and administration of Muslim personal law through British-governed courts, often centering the colonial state and its approach to defining Islam and law. She argues that these histories miss the vibrant debates, exchanges, and investment in legal problem-solving that took place outside the courts, through unofficial correspondence with jurists, in private exchanges with judges, and through registers, files, postcards, and telegrams. Lhost highlights how Islamic law operated in and through these unofficial, ephemeral, and everyday spaces. In her talk, she will discuss how judges and jurists asserted, negotiated, and employed the modicum of official privilege and prestige the state awarded them as they made the case for their continued relevance and utility amid rapid and dramatic social and political change. Lhost will conclude by outlining potential directions for future research and offer some reflections on how large-scale collaborative digital projects might achieve these aims. Dilyara Agisheva (Harvard Law School) will moderate the talk.

Critical Perspectives in the Development and Dynamics of Islam in Africa Lecture Series

Islam in Africa has become an important and increasingly vibrant sub-field in Islamic Studies, attracting numerous extremely talented students who are conducting fine studies that have great impact in all fields in the humanities and social sciences. Dozens of books are published yearly including through major university presses, and so the goal of Critical Perspectives in the Development and Dynamics of Islam in Africa lecture series is to provide a platform for the discussion of cutting edge research in the field of Islam in Africa and to tap into the best of such new work for Africanists and Islamicists at all schools at Harvard. Every academic year, the Islam in Africa lecture series brings authors of newly published books and advanced Ph.D students to campus to discuss their work.

This event is organized by Professor Ousmane Kane (Harvard University) and co-sponsored by the Program in Islamic Law, Harvard Divinity School, the Department of African and African American Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, and the Center for African Studies. 


ILSS: Haroun Rahimi

Join us on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via Zoom, where Haroun Rahimi (The American University of Afghanistan) will present “Taliban and Modernity” as part of our Islamic Law Speaker Series. The presentation will explore the Taliban’s approaches to law, rights, governance, education, and the public and private spheres, examining what they can tell us about the problems of modernity within these contexts. The presentation will also assess how to address these problems from within the Islamic tradition if we adopt the paradagim of multitude of modernities. In particular, the presentation focuses on possible re-understandings of premodern conceptions of separation of power in the Muslim tradition as a way to counter theocratic authoritarianism in the Muslim context. Dilyara Agisheva (Harvard Law School) will moderate the talk.

SHARIAsource Lab: Hackathon: Arabic OCR Community Scribes

On Saturday March 4, 2023 at 11:00AM-4:00PM US EST at the Program in Islamic Law’s office in Austin Hall, our SHARIAsource Lab will lead a Hackathon: Arabic OCR Community Scribes event (registration ends February 27th by midnight EST). Join us for a chance to help write the next chapter in the history of the Arabic script where we bring our efforts together to finally develop a dependable program that will allow texts using Arabic script to be machine readable. This work in checking and reviewing documents will allow scholars to access, search and explore historical and contemporary documents like never before. No knowledge of coding or programming is needed but knowledge of Arabic script is a must to train the machine learning program to recognize them. Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP. Drop by for however long you can to meet, chat, and transcribe!

Kenneth Roth, “The Global Contest between Democracy and Autocracy: Less Dire Than It Seems”

Join us tomorrow February 9 at 12:30 PM EST, for the discussion “The Global Contest between Democracy and Autocracy: Less Dire Than It Seems” with Kenneth Roth. Roth has served for nearly three decades as the executive director of Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading international human rights organizations, which operates in some 100 countries. He currently holds fellowships at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and at Perry World House of the University of Pennsylvania.

HUID holders are invited to attend the discussion in person at WCC 2019 Milstein West B in Harvard Law School. Lunch will be provided.

The event is organized by HRP and co-sponsored by HLS Advocates for Human Rights, the International Human Rights Clinic, Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, Harvard Human Rights Journal, the Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, Program in Islamic Law, and East Asian Legal Studies.

Professor Intisar Rabb, “Metacanons: Comparative Textualism [Or: Reading Law, Comparatively in American and Islamic Law]”, Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory, U.C. Berkeley

On Friday, February 3, 2023 from 12:15-2:00 p.m. PST, PIL Faculty Director, Professor Intisar Rabb, will be presenting “Metacanons: Comparative Textualism [Or: Reading Law, Comparatively in American and Islamic Law]” at a Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory sponsored by the Kadish Center for Morality, Law, & Public Affairs and the Philosophy and Political Science Departments at U.C. Berkeley. The event will be held in person in room 141, Law Building, and online via Zoom.

ILSS: Marion Katz

On Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via ZoomMarion Katz (New York University) will give a book talk on her recent publication Wives and Work: Islamic Law and Ethics before Modernity (Columbia University Press, 2022). In this book, Katz addresses the widely held assumption that classical Islamic law frees wives from any obligation to do work, and offers a new account of wives’ domestic labor that recasts the historical relationship between Islamic law and ethics. She reconstructs a complex discussion among Sunni legal scholars of the ninth to fourteenth centuries and examines its wide-ranging implications. This book sheds new light on notions of family, labor, and gender personhood as well as the interplay between legal and ethical doctrines in Islamic thought. Dilyara Agisheva (Harvard Law School) will moderate the talk. Registration is required.

Roundtable on the History of Islamic International Law

We are excited to announce our upcoming Roundtable on the History of Islamic International Law on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 from 9:00am-12:00pm EST, in a live webinar over Zoom. Organized by Intisar Rabb (Harvard Law School) and Umut Özsu (Carleton University), who are editing a volume on the subject for the Cambridge History on International Law, this Roundtable will bring together the contributing authors to that volume – all historians and legal scholars selected for their expertise on the contested status of various visions of international law from the medieval Islamic world to the Ottoman era (622-1923), spanning a variety of regions from across the globe.

Contributing scholars include Cemil Aydin (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Fahad Bishara (University of Virginia), Malika Dekkiche (University of Antwerp)Mohammad Fadel (University of Toronto)Maribel Fierro (Spanish National Research Council), Kate Fleet (University of Cambridge)Aimee Genell (University of West Georgia)Will Hanley (Florida State University)Suleiman Mourad (Smith College)Will Smiley (University of New Hampshire)Mathieu Tillier (University of Sorbonne)Joshua White (University of Virginia), and Adnan Zulfiqar (Rutgers Law School). During the Roundtable webinar, contributing scholars will reflect on and deliberate the larger themes, lingering questions, and ongoing debates surrounding the history of what we have become accustomed to calling ‘international law’. Essays previewing the Handbook and emerging from the Roundtable sessions will be published on the Islamic Law Blog.

Hermeneutics in the Age of Big Data, Yusuf Celik

On October 19th at 3:00pm EST, PIL Data Science Fellow, Dr. Yusuf Celik, will be presenting Hermeneutics in the Age of Big Data at Harvard University’s Digital Scholarship Group. Data collection and interpretation are necessary parts of any kind of scholarly research. The extent and character of the data collected by a researcher has always been dependent on the types of tools and corpora known to the researcher. With the advent of technological advancements in the fields of data science, humanities scholars now have the means to gather and discover data at a scope and rate that was unthinkable before the advent of computers. However, while humanities scholars are slowly learning and integrating these new tools in their research, they must also confront the question of how to interpret the large amount of data that they gained sudden access to. In this Discovery talk, Dr. Celik will address this question in relation to a variety of case studies within the digital study of Islamic history and law.