NEWS | 4 Apr 2017
Review :: Fadel on the Function of the “Interest Ban” in Islamic Finance

Student editor Alicia Daniel reviews Mohammad H. Fadel, Ribâ, Efficiency and Prudential Regulation: Preliminary Thoughts, 25 Wisconsin Journal of International Law 655 (2008)"Islamic finance creates financial products specifically aimed at Muslims that are sharīʿa compliant. Many scholars have condemned Islamic finance for condemning ribā (interest) on the one hand, particularly where usurious, but then many others have created workarounds that allow modern big-finance firms to avoid it in name only on the other hand. Those who argue against the workaround argue that nominal interest-avoidance goes against the spirit of the guidelines set forth in Islamic law (sharīʿa). Weighing in on the controversy, University of Toronto Law Professor Mohammad Fadel considers whether ribā might serve a function that goes beyond simple definitions of it as either interest or usury. Historically, the prohibition on interest was a means of regulating medieval financial industries, in ways that have little application to the modern financial instruments. The medieval prohibitions and the modern controversies about Islamic finance then, he argues, are misaligned and need rethinking. This post provides a “plain English” review of the article: Mohammad H. Fadel, Ribâ, Efficiency and Prudential Regulation: Preliminary Thoughts, 25 Wisconsin Journal of International Law 655 (2008).Read more. Image credit: Guidance Residential

Reconciling the Impermissibility of Conventional Options Contracts with the Bai’ al-Urbun

Guest contributor Meagan Froemming counters critics of modern Islamic finance practice by highlighting overlooked innovations of some financial instruments. Read more. Image credit: Raconteur/Russian Council

Islamic Law in U.S. Courts: Vinewood Capital v. Dar al-Maal al-Islami Trust (5th Cir. 2008) 

This case examines a mudaraba agreement signed in Texas, and whether its signatories are subject to its arbitration clause when the signatories have also signed a prior contract.  This is part of SHARIAsource's Islamic Law in U.S. Courts series. Read more. Image credit: United States Supreme Court

Other News

Scholars in the News
SHARIAsource editor Will Smiley shares in the Washington Post his expertise on the motives of new anti-sharia legislation in some states. 

Senior scholar Noah Feldman comments on First Amendment issues underlying the state of Georgia's refusal to allow a couple to give their child the last name Allah. Excerpted from the original piece on Bloomberg View. 

ILSP Paper Prize on Islamic Law for HLS Students
Islamic Legal Studies Program Prize on Islamic Law (Cambridge, MA). Each year the Law School awards several prizes for the best papers written by Harvard Law School students in particular areas of the law. Graduating prize winners are noted in the Commencement Program and prize-winning papers are eligible to be published in the School’s public paper series. ILSP will award a prize of $1,000 annually to the Harvard Law School student writing the best paper in the field of Islamic law or on the intersection between other religious legal traditions and Islamic law. Papers eligible for consideration will be ones written during the current academic year, addressing any topic in Islamic legal history and theory, Islamic law and society, and Islamic comparative law – including these topics as related to other religious legal traditions. Papers are due in the Office of Academic Affairs (Lewis 208) by 5:00 pm on 28 Apr 2017. Read more.

The Late Ottoman Empire and Egypt: Hybridity, Law, and Gender (4 Apr 2017 | Cambridge, MA). Elizabeth H. Shlala earned a PhD in History from Georgetown University. She has held academic positions at London School of Economics and Political Science, Oxford University, Columbia University, Georgetown University, and she is currently a visiting scholar at CMES. Her work explores the nexus of modern migration and law in the Middle East. Her main research areas are two-fold: legal imperialism and colonial hybridity in the late Ottoman period and the social, intellectual, and economic impact of contemporary global migrations. Her work analyzes the historical roots of current identities, discourses, and institutions. Full details.

Launch of "The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition: A Digital Portal" (11 Apr 2017 | New York, NY).  The Institute of Advanced Study's launch event of "The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition: A Digital Portal" will be on April 11, 2017 at the residence of the German Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.  Register here  for the event.

ILSP: Law and Social Change ::  Film Series on Women, Rights, and  Activism in the Muslim World: "Private Revolutions--Young, Female, Egyptian" (13 Apr 2017| Cambridge, MA).  “Private Revolutions” chronicles two years in the lives of four young Egyptian women from various social backgrounds who are fighting for their rights and for change after the revolution. Street activist Sharbat and her three children were kicked out their home by her husband due to her political engagement. Fatema is an active Muslim Sister and mother of three sons. Amani struggles to run her own radio station and a publishing company focused on enhancing women rights. May, of Nubian descent, starts a development project in conservative southern Egypt.  Following the screening, Alexandra Schneider, the film’s director, will join us for discussion and Q&A. Kristen Stilt, Professor of Law and Director of ILSP: LSC, will be the discussant and Salma Waheedi, ILSP: LSC Visiting Fellow will moderate. RSVP.

ILSP: SHARIAsource Fellow's Lecture :: Sohaira Siddiqui (24 Apr 2017 | Cambridge, MA).  Lecture by Sohaira Siddiqui, Policy Fellow, ILSP: SHARIAsource; Assistant Professor of Theology and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar, on her current research over lunch. 

ILSP: SHARIAsource Fellow's Lecture :: Mubasher Hussain (1 May 2017 | Cambridge, MA). Lecture by Mubasher Hussain, ILSP: SHARIAsource Fulbright Fellow; Head, Sirah Unit, Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan, on his current research over lunch. 

Temple Bar Scholarships (2-27 Oct 2017 | London). The Temple Bar Foundation is accepting applications for its scholarship program. Selected scholars will have the opportunity to shadow a barrister and observe and discuss English trial practice, spend time with a justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, observe appellate arguments, discuss legal issues with the country’s highest judges. Applications due 30 Apr 2017 . Read more.

International Conference on Transnational Families and Divorce: Revisiting Marital Break-Up in Times of Global (Im)mobilities) (27-29 Sep 2017 | Nijmegen, Netherlands). This conference examines transnational divorce, as its causes, processes, and after-effects increasingly take place across national and socio-cultural borders. It takes into account the different socio-legal and cultural contexts within which it occurs, notably how state policies influence the process of marital dissolution.  We particularly welcome papers from young scholars in the field of socio-legal studies, sociology,  anthropology, history, and other disciplines. We also encourage studies that employ a transnational  and/or intersectional approach (Crenshaw 1989) paying attention to structuring factors such as  gender, class, race and ethnicity. After the conference, selected papers will be published as parts of  an edited volume on transnational families and divorce. Abstracts due 30 Apr 2017  Read more.

Al-Qasimi Chair (Professor/Associate Professor) in Islamic Studies, IAIS, University of Exeter (Exeter, UK).  The post holder will be a leading international figure with the ability to attract high quality researchers at doctoral and postdoctoral level to the Islamic Studies research group. Any area of Islamic Studies is an appropriate specialism including (but not limited to) history, theology, philosophy, literature, mysticism, law, jurisprudence, art and architecture, art history, anthropology and sociology, digital humanities, and any period of the study of Islam. Applications due 1 May 2017 Read more.

Call for Papers: Islamic Law and Its Implementation in Asia and the Middle East (6 Oct 2017 | London). In conjunction with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), the editors of the Asian Yearbook of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (AYBHRHL) invite submissions for the above conference to be held at the British Institute of International & Comparative Law, Russell Square, London. The conference focuses on the topic of Islamic law and the implementation of Islamic law in Asia and the Middle East. Abstracts due 15 May 2017. Read more. 

Call for Panels: Comparative Law, Faith and Religion: The Role of Faith in Law (26-28 Oct 2017 | Washington, D.C. ).  The American Society of Comparative Law and American University College of Law invites all interested scholars to consider submitting a panel proposal for the upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Society of Comparative Law that will be held between Thursday, October 26, and Saturday, October 28, 2017, at American University Washington College of Law, Washington D.C.  entitled Comparative Law, Faith and Religion: The Role of Faith in Law. Panel proposals should include up to four speakers, a panel title, and a one-to-two-paragraph description of the ideas that the panel will explore. Proposals are due 1 Jun 2017. Read more.

Engagement Lab @ Emerson College: MA in Civic Media, Art, and Practice (Boston, MA).  For those who have an interest in digital Islamic law/humanities, and want graduate training to better prepare for an academic or industry career in the field, the Engagement Lab is accepting applications for their graduate program.  Read more.

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