NEWS |  19 Dec 2017
Ijāra Financing and Religious Tax Exemption Status of Financed Property
U.S. Editor Abed Awad examines the implications of the 6th Circuit's decision in October regarding the financing of an Islamic Center through ijāra . To fund construction for a new building without violating their understanding of an Islamic law prohibition against usury (or interest), the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) entered into an ijāra agreement with Devon Bank. Under the agreement, Devon Bank had legal transfer of the building's title until ICN could fully purchase the building's construction, similar to a rent-to-own arrangement. After ICN paid off the building loan, ownership was transferred to ICN from Devon Bank. When ICN applied for a property tax exemption, the state of Tennessee denied the exemption for the period in which Devon owned the building, but granted it for the time after. ICN appealed, seeking a full tax exemption for the entire period. But the court dismissed the appeal on grounds that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Abed Awad commented that: "These types of ijāra transactions are common and routine. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the Islamic Center’s ijāra financing transaction, except that the Islamic Center of Nashville is a tax-exempt not-for-profit religious organization. Once title to the property was transferred to the Lender, the Nashville tax authorities returned the property on the Tax Rolls. The Islamic Center objected to the taxation, arguing that nothing had changed insomuch as the property continued to be exclusively occupied by the Islamic Center and continued to be utilized exclusively for the Center’s tax-exempt religious purposes." The decisions suggests a need for more deliberation about compliance of Islamic finance agreements with U.S. Laws and regulations in order that the private agreements of the former comply with and benefit from the latter. Read more . Image credit: Islamic Center of Nashville
Islamic Center of Nashville v. Tennessee ( M.D. Tenn 2016 & 6th Cir. 2017 ): Tax Status of I jāra -Financed Center
When the Islamic Center of Nashville sought to finance its center without paying interest, it entered into an agreement with a local bank that might have complied with Islamic law but been at odds with current understandings of tax exempt law. The state of Tennessee denied the Center's request for tax exemption for the time period in which the local bank owned the building. ICN appealed the decision, but the trial court found that it had no subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision . Read more. Image credit: Wikimedia
Muslim Cmty. Ass'n of Ann Arbor & Vicinity v. Pittsfield Charter Twp. (E.D. Mich. 2013): Discrimination in Zoning Regulations
The Plaintiff, the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, challenged the Pittsfield Charter Township for its refusal to re-zone the area surrounding the Plaintiff so that the Plaintiff could expand and build a school. Although an independent outside planner endorsed the rezoning, the Plaintiff alleged that the Respondents denied rezoning due to concerns stemming largely from an animus to the Islamic faith. The Plaintiff claimed that the Respondents discriminated against the organization in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and "state law claims" in the Michigan state constitution. Read more. Image credit: Wikimedia
Other News

ILSP: SHARIAsource Visiting Researcher Seval Yildirim discussed her current work on identities of Muslims as conceived in American court cases in her November 13th lunch talk entitled “The M Word: Legal Constructions of Muslim Identity in the U.S.” Her presentation of her research identified three distinct typologies of how courts have defined Muslim identity and the broader political and normative implications of legal construction of minority identities in the United States. She is analyzing cases dating from the 19th century; her findings will be published in

Mariam Sheibani ’s lunch talk on November 16th surveyed the terminological and conceptual evolution of maxims in Shāfiʿī legal literature from the founding of the school in the ninth century to the emergence of maxim treatises in the fourteenth century. Her presentation of her research provided insight into how maxims mediated and shaped jurists’ differing views of the law.

Sharon Tai and Ali Hashmi 's November 27th lunch talk discussed the research method they are using to do textual analysis of SHARIAsource’s collection of U.S. Court cases. Their presentation compared cases tagged “First Amendment” with cases tagged “Fourteenth Amendment.” 

SHARIAsource Book Release: Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts
ILSP: SHARIAsource's book has released the next book in the Harvard Series on Islamic law. Edited by Intisar A. Rabb and Abigail Krasner Balbale , this book presents an in-depth exploration of the administration of justice during Islam’s founding period, 632–1250 CE. Inspired by the scholarship of 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 .

Islamic Law and Sexuality Conference (9-11 Jan 2018 | Exeter, UK). This two day workshop aims to investigate questions of Islamic law and sexuality, broadly conceived, including but not limited to such subjects as il/legitimate sex, communal perceptions of sexuality, marriage, sexual violence, gender, concubinage and sexual consent.  Details .

3rd USPPIP Team Meeting and Workshop :: Maslaha, Siyasa and Good Governance: Shari’a and Society (19-20 Apr 2018 | Bergen, Norway). Key-note addresses by Professors Mohammed Fadel and Felicitas Opwis . This workshop will focus on the use of concepts such as maslaha and siyasa in Islamic discussion of reform and orthopraxy. To what degree do Islamic NGOs appeal to maslala in their activities? To what degree do Muslim thinkers today use the terms of siyasa  and maslaha in their discussions of state activities and laws in Muslim, mixed and non-Muslim states? A central concept for many state-oriented NGOs is “good governance”. This term, which may be used for accountability of the ruler, or more widely for works promoting democratic practices, is in many ways akin to “promotion of public welfare”, i.e. maslaha.   Details.

20th General Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law (22-28 Jul 2018 | Fukuoka, Japan). A week-long conference on topics of comparative law, including workshops, round tables, and lunch meetings. A forum for younger scholars will also be held. Details .


Annual Comparative Law Work-in-Progress Workshop (23-24 Feb 2018 | Princeton, NJ). All interested comparative law scholars are invited to consider submitting a paper to the next annual Comparative Law Work-in-Progress Workshop, which will be held February 23-24, 2018 at Princeton University.  The participants in the workshop will consist of the respective authors, commentators, and faculty members of the host institutions. The papers will not be presented at the workshop. Each paper will be introduced and discussed first by two commentators before opening the discussion to the other workshop participants. Each of the authors selected for the workshop is expected to have read and to be prepared to discuss each of the papers selected. The author of each paper will be given an opportunity to respond and ask questions of his or her own. There are no plans to publish the papers. Papers due 8 Jan 2018 . Details.

Call for Papers: Rethinking Halal: Genealogy, Current Trends, and New Interpretation (24-25 Apr 2018 | Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium). The  Université Catholique de Louvain  Chair of the Law and Religions Research Institute in Religions, Societies, Cultures, Spiritualities 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 toward it. The conference will discuss how the main stake holders in the halal industry (‘ulama, state, halal certificate bodies, scholars) are producing halal norms and standards applying to ‘others’. Abstracts are due by 8 Jan 2018 . Read more

Salzburg Seminar/Cutler Fellows in International Law (23-24 Feb 2018 | Washington, D.C.). Harvard Law School is accepting applications for the 2018 Salzburg Lloyd N. Cutler Fellows Program.  Up to five Harvard students will be selected to participate. The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program brings together 55 of the nation’s top law students with leading academics, judges, and practitioners in the fields of private and public international law. The two-day program examines the most critical issues shaping today’s international law agenda and creates a network of women and men interested in careers in international legal practice and public service.  Applications due due 9 Jan 2018. Details .

USPPIP Summer School for Early Career Researchers: “Uses of the Past in Islamic Law” (Jul 2018 | TBD ). Advanced notice: the First “Uses of the Past in Islamic Law” Summer School for Early Career Researchers, July 2018. In early January, USPPIP will open for applications from advanced PhD students and recently graduated PhD students/Post-doctoral researchers. The travel and accommodation expenses of all participants will be covered by USPPIP. Details.

Visiting Fellowships at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (2018-2019 | Oxford, UK). The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies promotes excellence in the study of Islam and Muslim societies. Applications are invited for the following Visiting Fellowships tenable for the 2018-19 academic year. Other non-stipendiary Visiting Fellowships are available for shorter periods. Applications accepted on a rolling basis for these throughout the year. Applications due 19 Jan 2017 . Details .

Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at the Yale Law School Fellowship (2018 - 2019 | New Haven, CT). The Abdallah S. Kamel Center at the Yale Law School for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization invites applications for its 2018-2019 research fellowships. The fellowships are designed to bring promising junior scholars to the Law School in order to advance their academic research relating to Islamic law and civilization and to contribute to the intellectual life of the Law School and Yale University more broadly. Applications due 31 Jan 2018 . Details .

Conference Call for Papers: The Reach of Empire – The Early Islamic Empire at Work (11-13 Oct 2018 | Hamburg, Germany). As the ERC project “The Early Islamic Empire at Work – The View from the Regions Toward the Center” nears its end, its final conference invites participants to consider the reach of the early Islamic Empire from the 7th to the 10th centuries CE. Abstracts due 31 Jan 2018 . Details .

American Institute for Maghrib Studies: Annual Grants Program (2018-2019). The American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS) is pleased to announce its Annual Grants Program for the 2018-2019 cycle. The program offers short and long term grants to U.S. scholars interested in conducting research on North Africa in any Maghrib country, specifically Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, or Tunisia. Applications due 31 Jan 2018 . Details .

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