ILSS: Irene Schneider

Join us on  Tuesday, April 12, 2022 12:00-1:00PM US EST via Zoom, where Professor Irene Schneider (Göttingen University) will speak about her new book, Debating the Law, Creating Gender: Sharia and Lawmaking in Palestine (Brill, 2021). Her book examines how family law in Palestine, despite being a controversial topic publicly debated by representatives of the state, Sharia establishment, and civil society, does not exist. It endeavors to determine why by focusing on the conceptualization of gender and analyzing “law in the making” and the shifts in debates (2012–2018). In 2012, a ruling on khulʿ-divorce was issued by the Sharia Court and was well received by civil society, but when the debate shifted in 2018 to how to “harmonize” international law with Islamic standards, the process came to a standstill. These developments and the various power relations cannot be properly understood without taking into consideration the terminology used and redefined in these debates, which this book attempts to address. Dr. Marwa Sharafeldin, visiting fellow with the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World at Harvard Law School, will serve as discussant. This event will be moderated by PIL Research Fellow, Dr. Hedayat Heikal

Irving Tragen Lecture on Comparative Law: Professor Intisar Rabb, “Metacanons: Comparative Textualism at SCOTUS and in Islamic Law”

On April 13, 2022 at 3:50- 5:00 pm (EST), PIL Faculty Director, Professor Intisar Rabb will present the Irving Tragen Lecture on Comparative Law at UC Berkeley Law titled “Metacanons: Comparative Textualism at SCOTUS and in Islamic Law.”This talk will take a comparative law look at shared methods of interpretation for textualists in two very different legal systems: American law and Islamic law. The focus is on the history and use of certain legal canons– principles of interpretation that judges derive from a kind of interpretive common law and use to resolve ambiguity when confronting novel issues that the text alone does not plainly address. For reasons that a comparative law look will make clear, there is an area of shared textual/linguistic legal canons with shared features about how language works: metacanons. Recognizing them in each system and across systems can inform how best to define textual canons, and to what ends American judges should use them in an era of increased use of legal canons but decreased Court-Congress dialogue. Join the event here.

Islamic Law Speaker Series: Hedayat Heikal

On Tuesday, February 8, 2022 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via Zoom, Dr. Hedayat Heikal will speak about inheritance and personal status laws in Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia in a presentation titled “Inheritance versus Personal Status: Shifting National Strategies in Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia”. Heikal will argue that demands for equality in inheritance among similarly situated male and female heirs have taken a confessionalist turn.  Whether by legislation in Syria or through court battles in Egypt, non-Muslim citizens of both countries have begun to achieve equality in inheritance among male and female heirs by yanking inheritance away from the jurisdiction of Islamic default rules and defining it as a matter of personal status that ought to be distinct for their communities.  This talk explores how and why this turn is happening and contrasts it to recent developments in Tunisia where equality of inheritance for all citizens is the subject of more open contestation.


Registration required

Roundtable on Islamic Legal Genres

We are excited to announce our upcoming Roundtable on Islamic Legal Genres, happening on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 9:00am-12:30pm EST / 3:00pm-6:30pm Germany / 5:00pm-8:30pm Turkey via Zoom. This Roundtable will conclude our Monthly Lectures on Islamic Legal Genres, convened by Professors Hakki ArslanNecmettin Kizilkaya, and Intisar Rabb, in which a group of scholars of Islamic law and history have been giving monthly lectures that explore the form and function of popular genres  in Islamic law. These monthly lectures will now culminate in an online discussion on how the development of different genres accompanied diverse functions and content to match the evolving needs of Islamic law and society.

This Roundtable features two panel discussions that interrogate genre as a tool for understanding Islamic law and relationships between theory and practice. The first panel, titled “Genre as a Tool for Understanding Islamic Law: Theoretical and Practical Approaches,” will be held at 9:00am-10:45am US EST / 3:00pm-4:45pm Germany / 5:00pm-6:45pm Turkey, followed by the second panel, titled “Genre as a Tool for Understanding Relationships between Theory and Practice (uṣūl and furūʿ): Internal Perspectives,” at 11:00am-12:30pm US EST / 5:00pm-6:30pm Germany / 7:00pm-8:30pm Turkey. Professors Bilal Aybakan, Issam EidoOmar FarahatRobert Gleave,  Evgenia KermeliSerdar KurnazNorbert OberauerElias Saba, and Delfina Serrano will serve as panelists. The panels will then be opened up to a larger group of scholars who will join the panelists for a dynamic discussion on the topics.

You can watch previous lectures here and read their summaries on our blog. Registration is required

Lift Every Voice: The Life and Legacy of Professor Lani Guinier ’74

On Saturday, October 30, 2021, Professor Intisar Rabb will participate in a one-day virtual symposium titled “Lift Every Voice: The Life and Legacy of Professor Lani Guinier ’74.” The symposium will highlight the extraordinary life and work of Harvard Law (Emerita) Professor Lani Guinier, the special intersectional barriers she faced and shattered, and the paths of those shaped by the trail she blazed. The symposium will provide the law school community, former students, collaborators, and colleagues of Professor Guinier, the opportunity to engage with her scholarly work and set a forward-looking agenda for scholarship, practice, and pedagogy. A goal of the symposium is to provide a dynamic platform and ongoing opportunities to build on and innovate Professor Guinier’s foundational ideas.

Registration is required.


Book Talk: Katharina Ivanyi

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021 12:00-1:00PM US EST via ZoomDr. Katharina Ivanyi (University of Vienna)will speak on her new book, Virtue, Piety and the Law: A Study of Birgivī Meḥmed Efendī’s (d. 981/1573) al-Ṭarīqa al-muḥammadiyya (Brill, 2020). In this book, Ivanyi examines a major work of pietist exhortation and advice composed by the sixteenth-century Ottoman jurist, Ḥadīth scholar, and grammarian, who articulates a style of religiosity that had considerable reformist appeal into modern times. It outlines how Birgivī played a significant role in the negotiation and articulation of early modern Ottoman Ḥanafī piety by linking he cultivation of individual virtue to questions of wider political, social, and economic concern. Professor Yavuz Aykan (Université Paris- Panthéon-Sorbonne) will comment on the talk. This event will be moderated by PIL Research Fellow, Dr. Hedayat Heikal.


Registration is required.

Islamic Legal Genres: Marion Katz

On Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via ZoomProfessor Marion Katz (New York University), will speak on the form, function, and historical development of the ṭabaqāt al-fuqahāʾ literature as part of our ongoing monthly lecture series. Prof. Katz is a Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU, where she has been teaching since 2002. Her research revolves around issues of Islamic law, ethics, gender, and ritual. She received a BA from Yale and a PhD from the University of Chicago.

Registration required

Islamic Law Speaker Series: Yusuf Celik

On Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via Zoom, with Dr. Yusuf Celik, will speak about redefining the hermeneutical circle in the age of data science. Dr. Celik is currently the inaugural Data Science Fellow at the Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School and at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. He has previously served as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Utrecht. His research centers on philosophical hermeneutics in the Islamic tradition and on Continental philosophy. He  has also been active for years in the field of software engineering and is currently exploring ways to synthesize insights from philosophical hermeneutics with deep learning and other new technologies. Dr. Celik received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2020.

Registration is required

Islamic Legal Genres: Anas Sarmini

On Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 12:00-1:00PM US EST via Zoom, Professor Anas Sarmini, will speak on the form, function, and historical development of ikhtilāf al-fuqahāʾ as a genre as part of our ongoing monthly lecture series. Dr. Sarmini is an Assistant Professor at the Istanbul 29 May University. His research focuses on ḥadīth, uṣūl al-fiqh (jurisprudence), and Arabic. He completed his doctoral degree on ḥadīth and sunna from the University of Jinan in 2015, and a master’s degree on Arabic literature in 2013, and a second master’s degree from the University of Damascus in ḥadīth studies.

Registration is required.

Book Talk: Rachel Scott

On Tuesday, September 14, 2021 12:00-1:00PM US EST via ZoomProfessor Rachel Scott (Virginia Tech) will speak about her new book, Recasting Islamic Law: Religion and the Nation State in Egyptian Constitution Making (Cornell University Press, 2021). In this book, Scott examines the intersection of Islamic law, state law, religion, and culture in the Egyptian nation-building process, highlighting how the sharia, when attached to constitutional commitments, is reshaped into modern Islamic state laws. This event will be moderated by PIL Research Fellow, Dr. Hedayat Heikal.

Registration is required.