Roundtable of Scholars Weigh in on Major UK Islamic Family Law Case:
Akhter v. Khan
At the tail end of last month, a UK court decided a case of family law that has reverberated in legal-academic and media circles alike: what is the status of Islamic law in UK courts? Should state courts recognize Islamic marriages that have not been registered? Does religious law stand in the place of state law? Mr. Justice William touched on these questions in
Akhter v. Khan
(July 2018), his
decision issued from the High Court
of Justice of England and Wales. We provide a summary of the lengthy case in the
SHARIAsource Case Brief
— outlining the facts and presenting excerpts from the original case, which may be found
. We then rounded up six scholars of Islamic family law and related areas to weigh in and debate the implications of the case.
(University of Sussex)
provides an anthropological perspective
(Duke Law School)
discusses the ambiguous nature of the decision
(University of Exeter Law School)
critiques the decision's
"failure to engage with the actual terms of the Marriage Act of 1949."
(Harvard Law School) notes that the decision renders the union "something akin to what classical Islamic law
would label a 'defective marriage.'
, a practicing attorney, and
(Max Planck Institute) assess the
practical repercussions of the decision
, and discuss what it may signal about the
direction of Islamic marriage
and marriage as a whole within the UK.
Image credit: Getty Images
Commentary :: DNA Tests in Morocco: Marking a Historic Turn in Islamic Law
Zaynab El Bernoussi
(Al Akhwayn University in Ifrane) underscores the
October 2017 decision of the Tangiers First Instance Court
in which DNA tests were admitted as evidence in a family law case. The plaintiff was a mother who wanted to prove the paternity (
) and lineage (
) of her daughter born out of wedlock. This historic move led the Moroccan court to "recognize paternity outside of wedlock," which was "was relatively unheard of due to the common practice of considering kinship [or paternity] claims in conjunction with lineage and the associated rights to title, names, and surnames."
explains the domestic and international law
implications of this decision.
Image credit: Wired
Case :: Moroccan Courts Recognize Then Reverse Paternity Recognition of Children Born out of Wedlock (Court of Appeals of Tangiers)
A child born out of wedlock is typically not entitled to paternity recognition in Morocco. In an
, the First Instance Family Court in Tangiers recognized the familial relationship connecting a father to his biological daughter. The Court also required the man to pay 100,000 MAD (10,500 USD) to the child through her mother for the material and moral harms caused to the child from denial of paternity or familial relations. The defendant appealed the judgment. On October 9, 2017, the Tangiers Court of Appeals overturned the First Instance Court decision, rejecting the DNA tests and any recognition of familial relations. The Court also invalidated the lower court’s use of international conventions, explaining that the child is so “foreign” to or removed from her father that the possibility of their future marriage would not be overruled.
Image credit: Lucid Chart
SHARIAsource Hires Managing Editor.
SHARIAsource is very pleased to welcome new Managing Editor
. Marjan comes to SHARIAsource with many years of practice within the tech and legal space, both as a lawyer and as a business consultant to social impact startups. Marjan is particularly passionate about how new technologies, such as AI and blockchain, can enrich legal collaborations and make justice more accessible to people around the world. When not at work, she is mentoring social impact startups at MassChallenge, MITEF, and Consensys. She holds an LLM from Harvard Law School, where she specialized in intellectual property and Islamic property law.
SHARIAsource Welcomes Visiting Fellows.
SHARIAsource welcomes two of its visiting fellows this fall.
, recently graduated from the University of Chicago, will be undertaking research on legal maxims and Shāfiʿī legal history.
, who specializes in Islamic intellectual history, with an emphasis on 13th-19th century law, theology, and Sufism, will be studying
--the juristic practice of combining differing legal opinions to resolve a new issue and thereby produce an unprecedented ruling.
Spotlight on New Research Tools ::
Data Visualizations of Islamic Law Topics and Themes.
The SHARIAsource Portal aims to facilitate thinking about and searching for the often complex set of sources related to Islamic law.
Our next phase of development involves creating data visualizations that prompt scholars to be able to visually explore research questions on issues of Islamic law, old and new. Our first tool is a set of
visualizations is for Portal topics and themes
Check out this new way to search, and keep an eye out for new visual tools to come!
With the start of the new school year, it is a good time to order the latest ILSP / HUP publication. The seventh book in the Harvard Series on Islamic Law is out:
Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts
(Islamic Legal Studies Program/Harvard University Press, 2017)
. Edited by
Intisar A. Rabb
Abigail Krasner Balbale
, this book presents a wide-ranging exploration of the administration of justice during Islam’s founding period, 632–1250 CE. Inspired by the scholarship of Professor Emeritus
Roy Parviz Mottahedeh
and composed in his honor, this volume brings together ten leading scholars of Islamic law to examine the history of early Islamic courts. The book is available through
Harvard University Press
features weekly scholarship round-ups of new or notable work on Islamic law by SHARIAsource editors and other scholars of Islamic law. This month’s features include: SHARIAsource Senior Scholar
s forthcoming article in the
International Journal of Constitutional Law
on the development of laws in Egypt,
's new article in the
University of Pennsylvania
Journal of International Law
Conflict Constitution-Making in Libya and Yemen," Senior Scholar
' entry for "adoption" in the Oxford Bibliographies in Islamic Studies, editor
Islamic Law and Society
article "Married or Not Married? On the Obligatory Registration of Muslim Marriages in Nineteenth-Century Russia," and editor
Constituting Religion: Islam, Liberal Rights, and the Malaysian State
, which can be downloaded through open access from Cambridge University Press.
(Do you have a new article, book, or case that you’d like to see featured? Feel free to send citations and abstracts to
Editors’ Roundup ::
features weekly round-ups of the events and activities of SHARIAsource editors and other Islamic law scholars, meant to help the community of interested students and scholars keep up with new developments. This month's features include the following: Senior Scholar
New York Daily News
about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's views on religious school funding. (
Do you have a new event, op-ed, or job change that you’d like to see featured? Send your news to
SHARIAsource Open House (18 Sep | Cambridge, MA).
Come learn about the Islamic Legal Studies Program & SHARIAsource, which offers content and context on Islamic law. SHARIAsource provides an Islamic law portal <
>, built in partnership with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, as well as a blog <
> with regular and relevant commentary on new developments and new scholarship in Islamic law by leading scholars and students in the field. Meet the faculty, staff, and fellows involved in the project, and see how you can get involved. Brief remarks by the director to commence at 4.30p. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP to
Workshop :: Tools for Digital Islamic Law (27 Sept | Cambridge, MA). Jeremy Guillette,
Digital Scholarship Facilitator of Harvard University, will demonstrate and discuss established and emerging digital tools students of Islamic legal history and contemporary Islamic law may use in their research.
Space is limited.
For details and location, RSVP to
SHARIAsource Lunch Talk :: The Social Impact of Legal Patchworking (
) (2 Oct | Cambridge, MA).
Visiting Fellow, ILSP: SHARIAsource, Harvard Law School
--the juristic practice of combining differing legal opinions to resolve a new issue and thereby produce an unprecedented ruling--is often framed as an impious and capricious endeavor aimed at cutting corners. However, jurists have used this practice in ways that have had tremendous social impact, both positive and negative. This talk will address various debates on the permissibility of using
, its social impact, and prominent instances of state legislation in which legislators in the modern Muslim world have used
to serve the public good.
World Wide Week Event*
SHARIAsource Lunch Talk :: Book Talk on
From Slaves to Prisoners of War, The Ottoman Empire, Russia and International Law
(Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019)
(22 Oct | Cambridge, MA).
Author: Will Smiley,
Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire
Respondent: Mariam Sheibani
, Visiting Fellow, ILSP: SHARIAsource, Harvard Law School
SHARIAsource editor Will Smiley will discuss the research underlying his new book, in which he charts the changing law and practice of captivity and slavery in the Ottoman Empire and Middle East, at the intersection of Islamic and international law. In the eighteenth century, the Ottoman state and its Russian rival, through conflict and diplomacy, worked out a new system of regional international law. In the process, the Ottomans marked out a parallel, non-Western path toward elements of modern international law. Yet this was not a story of European imposition or imitation--the Ottomans acted for their own reasons, maintaining their commitment to Islamic law. For a time even European empires played by these rules, until they were subsumed into the codified global law of war in the late nineteenth century. This story offers new perspectives on the histories of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, of slavery, and of international law.
*Organized in collaboration with the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs (OVPIA) as part of the Worldwide Week at Harvard University, a week featuring a series of events that showcase Harvard’s global and comparative scholarship around the University. World Wide Week takes place between 22-26 October 2018. RSVP to
Global Events: Islamic Legal Studies
Conference :: The RCSL-SDJ Lisbon Meeting 2018: “Law and Citizenship Beyond The States” (10-13 Sep 2018 | Lisbon).
The conference will discuss, among other topics of sociology of law and justice, the contribution of law to the power of citizens, at a time of increasing competition between state law, once the main source of people’s rights, and multiple global and local normativities.
Lecture :: "
Philosophical Commentaries in Postclassical Islam: A Theoretical Investigation" (25 Sep | New Haven, CT). Asad Ahmed,
Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California at Berkeley, will be presenting as part the Abdallah S. Kamel Lecture Series at Yale Law School.
Conference :: Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiographies (12-13 Oct 2018 | London).
The aim of this exploratory and informal workshop is to reflect on methodologies, research agendas, and case studies for investigating history writing in Arabic in the Middle East and North Africa in any period from the seventh century to the present. We are interested in papers that consider the practical and conceptual challenges of working on history writing in the region.
Lecture :: "
Just, False and Discrediting Witnesses: Evidence in Sharia Courts" (23 Oct | New Haven, CT). Brinkley Messick
, Professor of Anthropology and MESAAS, Columbia University, will be presenting as part the Abdallah S. Kamel Lecture Series at Yale Law School.
"Fifty years after Marshall Hodgson and the Idea of a Discernible Islamic Civilization" (9 Oct | New Haven, CT).
Panel 1 ::
"The interaction of Islam with other traditions, cultures, religions, and civilizations"
Panelists: Ahmed El-Shamsy
, University of Chicago;
, University of Edinburgh;
, Columbia University;
, Columbia University
Frank Griffel, Yale University
, University of Chicago
Panel 2 :: "Is the distinction between a “core” and a “periphery” within Islam a useful idea or an obstacle to understanding?"
, Duke University;
, Harvard University;
, University of Arizona
, American University in Cairo
Conference :: American Society for Legal Society Annual Meeting: "Judges and Courts in Islamic History" (8-11 Nov 2018 | Houston).
This session's date is TBD. P
anelists will include
, PhD Candidate in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department at UPenn,
, PhD candidate at the University of Chicago and research fellow at Yale Law School, and
, Professor of Law and History at Harvard Law School and Harvard University.
Conference :: Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (15-18 Nov 2018 | San Antonio).
This year's annual meeting will be held at
the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio. Sessions on topics of Islamic law include the panel "Topics in Islamic Ritual Law" and "War, Nation, Religion, and Identity in the Later Ottoman Period."
Opportunities: Jobs, Fellowships, CFPs
Call for Applications :: Stanford University: Assistant Professor, Modern History of the Middle East and North Africa (applications due Sep 15; position starts Sep 1, 2019).
Call for Applications :: University of Cincinnati: Assistant/Associate Professor, Islamic Studies (review of applications begins Sep 15; position starts fall 2019).
Call for Applications :: Furman University: Professor, Middle Eastern History (applications due Sep 28; position starts Aug 2019).
Call for Applications :: Brandeis University: Chair in Ottoman, Mizrahi, and Sephardic Jewish Studies (review of applications begins Sep 30).
Call for Applications :: Hamilton College: Assistant Professor, Asian Islam (applications due Oct 5; position starts July 1, 2019).
Call for Applications :: University of Wisconsin–Madison: Assistant Professor, Gender in the Middle East (applications due Dec 15; position starts Aug 2019).
Call for Applications :: Postdoctoral Researchers, Qur’anic Studies (2019-2023 | University of Oxford)
This is an opportunity for outstanding scholars to join the research project Qur’anic Commentary: An Integrative Paradigm (QuCIP), funded by the European Research Council and directed by Nicolai Sinai. The particular responsibilities of these posts are to carry out research on (i) the Islamic reception history of surahs 1–4, or (ii) Qur’anic law in its late antique context; and in both cases to author a monograph on the topic. The positions are scheduled to commence in April 2019, although an earlier start date is possible if desired. Applications due
Call for Proposals :: Early-Career Faculty Grants in Islamic Studies (2018-2019 | Harvard University)
. The Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program is accepting proposals for early-career faculty grants to support workshops, symposia, or research projects during the 2018-19 academic year. Proposals must be of relevance to the study of Islam or Islamic societies. Applicants must be tenure-track Harvard faculty, either assistant or associate professors. For the 2018-19 academic year, the AISP seeks to fund two proposals in the range of $10,000 up to a maximum of $15,000 each. All financial matters and logistics related to the grant are to be managed by the AISP staff. The AISP staff, under the direction of the faculty, will coordinate and help staff the proposed activity. Please send a letter of interest along with a general budget and anticipated date of proposed activity to AISP Executive Director, Dr. Harry Bastermajian (
) no later than
. Proposals will be reviewed beginning on Sept 1.
Call for Nominations and Submissions :: Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Awards Competition
. The deadline for two of the awards has been extended to
. Graduate Student Paper Prize: Research papers on any aspect of post 600 CE Middle East studies are sought for this blind review.
. Undergraduate Education Award: Recognizes outstanding scholarship on teaching or other material contributions to undergraduate education in Middle East studies.
Call for Papers :: Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting Call for Papers:
Asylum and Refugee Rights in Islamic Law
The AALS Section on Law and Religion and Immigration Law has approved a section on asylum and refugee rights in Islamic law, which will be held during the 2019 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA.
The Muslim World today is currently experiencing the greatest rate of refugee movement in the world. This will allow scholars to explore historical and contemporary discourses on migration and refugee rights. The section will need four panelists to present on this subject If you have conducted a research in area, please reach out to Samy Ayoub and include an abstract at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Papers :: Criminal Law Developments in Muslim-Majority Countries (5-6 Mar 2019 | Tehran, Iran)
. The Research Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Tehran is inviting abstracts for an international conference on “Criminal Law Developments in the Muslim-Majority Countries in the Light of Interaction between Shari’a and Law.” The judicial and legal structures of Muslim-majority countries have changed drastically in the recent decades. Importantly, the experience of modern criminal law in the context of constitution-making processes in Muslim countries has not been thoroughly discussed yet, particularly from a comparative perspective. Against this background, this conference aims to make a strong contribution to the debate on criminal law reform in the context of public demand for Islamic justice. Please submit abstracts (700-1,000 words) online by Sep 22. Decisions will be announced by Oct 12, and full papers will be due Dec 21.
Call For Papers :: Ibadi Manuscripts and Manuscript Cultures (5-6 Apr 2019 | Ifrane, Morocco).
This workshop aims to highlight the importance of the cultures of producing, using, buying, selling, endowing, and transmitting Ibadi manuscripts from the earliest history of the community to the 20th century. The intention is to bring those interested in Ibadi manuscripts together in order to workshop drafts of short research articles on different aspects of this topic, which will later be proposed for publication in a special issue of the Journal of Islamic Manuscripts. Applicants will be notified by early Jan 2019. Participants will be asked to submit working drafts of their articles (in Arabic, English, or French) by Mar 1, 2019. Housing and meals at Al Akhawayn University are covered.
Please send proposals (max. 500 words) by
to Paul Love (
) or Soufien Mestaoui (
Call for Papers :: The Qurʾān and Ethiopia: Context and Reception (8 Apr 2019 | Washington, DC)
. Connections between the Qurʾān and Ethiopia are vast and varied. On the one hand, Ethiopia provides an important historical context (among many others) for understanding the Qurʾān in its Late Antique milieu. After all, throughout Late Antiquity, Ethiopia was a major political power, situated just across the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula. On the other hand, the Qurʾān also had—and still has—a reception in Ethiopia. This one-day symposium aims to locate the Qurʾān in Ethiopia, both as a context for its early development and as a location for its later reception. Abstracts describing the precise topic treated with a length of approximately 200-300 words can be sent as an electronic version (PDF and Word) to Aaron Butts (
). Papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication in an edited volume, which aims to make this interesting topic available to a wider audience. Abstracts due
Call for Papers :: British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS) Conference (15-16 Apr 2019 | Nottingham, UK).
The organizers invite proposals for whole panels or individual papers for our sixth annual conference. Islamic Studies is broadly understood to include all disciplinary approaches to the study of Islam and Muslim societies (majority and minority), modern and premodern. Plenary lectures will be delivered by Maribel Fierro (CSIC, Madrid), Khaled Fahmy (University of Cambridge), and Alison Scott-Baumann (SOAS, London). Please submit a 200-word abstract using the online form to
by Nov 30.
Fellowship with the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study (2019 | Princeton, NJ).
School of Historical Studies, Opportunities for Scholars 2019-2020. The Institute is an independent private institution founded in 1930 to create a community of scholars focused on intellectual inquiry, free from teaching and other university obligations. Scholars from around the world come to the Institute to pursue their own research. Candidates of any nationality may apply for a single term or a full academic year. Scholars may apply for a stipend, but those with sabbatical funding, other grants, retirement funding or other means are also invited to apply for a non-stipendiary membership. Some short-term visitorships (for less than a full term, and without stipend) are also available on an ad-hoc basis. Open to all fields of historical research, the School of Historical Studies' principal interests are Greek and Roman civilization, the history of Europe (medieval, early modern, and modern), the Islamic world, East Asian studies, art history, the history of science and philosophy, modern international relations and music studies. Residence in Princeton during term time is required. The only other obligation of Members is to pursue their own research. The Ph.D. (or equivalent) and substantial publications are required. Inquiries sent by post should be addressed to the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Dr., Princeton, N.J. 08540 (E-mail address: email@example.com). Applications are due
14 Oct 2018
Call for Applications :: Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History (9-22 Jun 2019 | Madison, WI).
The American Society for Legal History and the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School are pleased to invite applications for the tenth biennial Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History. The two-week program features presentations by guest scholars, discussions of core readings in legal history, and analysis of the work of the participants in the Institute. It will be led by Mitra Sharafi, Professor of Law and Legal Studies at UW-M. Scholars in law, history, and other disciplines pursuing research on legal history of any part of the world are eligible to apply (preference will be given to applications from scholars at an early stage of their career: beginning faculty members, doctoral students who have completed or almost completed their dissertations, and J.D. graduates with appropriate backgrounds). Travel, hotel room, and most meals will be provided. Submit the following in a single attachment to
: CV and Statement of Purpose (maximum 500 words) describing your current work, specific research interests, and the broader perspectives on legal history that inform your work. In addition, arrange to have two letters of recommendation emailed by the deadline of
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