NEWS | 14 Apr 2017
What Does it Mean for U.S. Court Decisions to be “Based On” Islamic Law?

SHARIAsource editor Will Smiley questions the strength of the arguments behind proposed "anti-sharīʿa" legislation in Montana, including claims of Islamic law undermining American law. "Americans continue to debate, as they have since at least 2010, whether states should ban their courts from considering Islamic law, or “foreign” law more generally, in their decisions. Montana’s pending SB 97, if passed, would be one such ban, preventing courts from “bas[ing] its ruling or decision on a law, legal code, or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the Montana constitution or the United States constitution.” A recent editorial in the Montana Standard, written by Cindy Sanderson, advocates this bill by citing several cases in which courts, she argues, have cited Islamic law. This list of cases, however, conflates several different things. Some of these decisions involved parties who tried to rely on Islamic beliefs in their arguments; others involved parties who made agreements based on their understanding of Islamic law; and others still involved court decisions from foreign countries whose law is partly inspired by Islamic law. These are all different situations. More importantly, just because all of these cases involved Islamic or foreign law in some way, does not mean that courts followed Islamic law, or based their decisions on Islamic law. That is the critical issue, because only decisions based on foreign law would be banned by Montana’s SB 97. Only a few of the cases Sanderson cites have been based on foreign law, and only after courts considered whether that law met American standards. This is clear by reviewing a few of the cases at issue.Read more. Image credit: KBOW550

Country Profile: Bahrain

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Kingdom of Bahrain (Mamlakat al Bahrayn), which is a member state of the  Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. This Profile is based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Bahrain’s Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) is a principal source for legislation. Read more. Image credit: BBC/Getty

Islamic Law in U.S. Courts: Balk v. New York Inst. of Tech (E.D.N.Y. 2013)

This case examines whether U.S. Courts are allowed to compel witnesses for violations of U.S. law in Bahrain. The case specifically examines violations of Title VII. This is part of SHARIAsource's Islamic Law in U.S. Courts series. Read more. Image credit: United States Supreme Court

Other News

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.

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. 

Postdoctoral Fellowship for Tunisian Scholars (1 Sep 2017 - 30 Jun 2018 | Cambridge, MA). The Tunisia Office of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University invites Tunisian scholars to submit applications for a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. The call for applications is open to scholars in the Humanities or Social Sciences who have received their PhD within the past seven years. The fellowship extends for 10 months, from September 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. The successful candidate will reside in the greater Boston area and will be required to teach a one-semester course on the area of specialization, in English or in Arabic. Preference will be given to the most qualified applicant whose research includes Tunisia and North Africa. Applications are due before 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.

Call for Papers: Rethinking Halal: Genealogy, Current Trends, And New Interpretation. (24-25 Apr 2018 | Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium). The Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Chair of Law and Religions, Research Institute in Religions, Societies, Cultures, Spiritualities (RSCS)  invites scholars and researchers to speak on the genealogy of halal since Muslim religious scholars started to instruct a written knowledgeable debate on ‘halal’ and to unravel Muslim social practices towards halal. The conference will discuss how the main stake holders in halal (‘ulama, state, halal certificate bodies, scholars) are producing halal norms and standards applying to ‘others’. The conference aims to rethink how they become moral agents (individually or institutionally) aiming to control, to guide, and to dictate what is lawful and unlawful for societies, industries, and companies.Keynote speakers and selected-speakers are, therefore, expected to write a paper based upon an original and high-quality research, which will be distributed during the conference for critical comments, suggestions, and feedbacks. Abstracts due by 8 Jan 2018. 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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