NEWS19 Sep 2016
A Court by Any Other Name: State 'Courts' and Sharīʿa Councils

Southwest Asia/Pakistan editor Jeff Redding compares ongoing debates in Britain about the use of Islamic law in courts with those in India, based on his own research on India's dar ul qazas (so-called sharīʿa courts). In Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India threatened to dismantle the dar ul qazas in a controversy about whether these forums for dispute resolution, which were not state-associated, count as courts. In that sense, Redding suggests that the controversy became a "nomenclature debate" that should be about more than just words. For Redding, these courts, state-associated or not, function by following some formalized proceedings. On that view, he proposes shifting the debate from one about semantics or definitions to focus on "what we want to see in a proceeding, rather than whether it is a 'court' proceeding per se." Read more. Image credit: Glenn Harvey/The Sun

CASE DOCUMENT: Vishwa Locan Madan v. Union of India (Supreme Court of India, 2005)
A landmark case that began in 2005, Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union of India brought to bear the legal status of dar ul qazas, or sharīʿa courts, in India. The Supreme Court of India issued a decision in 2014, stating that non-state sanction courts of Islamic law have "no legal sanctity" in India. Nonetheless, the constitutional entanglements with legal pluralism, secularism, and rule of law that this case illuminated for Indian courts will be occupying legal scholars for years and cases to come. Read more. Image credit: India Today
Islamic Law and Policy: A Brief History of the French Burkini Ban

UK/Europe/Southeast Asia editor Rachel Mazzarella chronicles the history of the French burkini ban in the context of French-style secularism, laïcité. She explores the extent to which this system permits or constrains accommodations of Islamic law and practice against the recent history of similar cases. The last ten years saw a litany of French bans on religiously-affiliated attire, which subordinate Muslim individuals' conceptions of 'awra (privacy, which is closely related to rules for modesty) to a government-informed definition of social integration Read more. Image credit: Vantage

Other News

American Society of Legal History Annual Meeting (27-30 Oct 2016 | Toronto, Canada). Ottoman editor Will Smiley and editor-in-chief Intisar Rabb will present at the ASLH Annual Meeting on the panel "Borderlands of Islamic Law: The Ottoman Empire and its Neighbors." Also at ASLH, Egyptian law and society historian Khaled Fahmy will present his paper "Global Forensics: Medico-Legal History in Asia and Africa" on a panel chaired by Mitra Sharafi. See preliminary program.

Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting (17-20 Nov 2016 | Boston, MA). MESA’s annual meeting will host a range of panels on Islamic law, including  "Policing and Punishment in the Making of the Modern Middle East," "Is Saudi Foreign Policy 'Islamic'?," "Islamic Religious Authority between the Arab World and Europe: Multi-tasked and Multi-tasking Imams" (Denmark contributor Niels Valdemar Vinding will be presenting), "International Law, Sovereignty and Subjecthood in the Late Ottoman Empire" (Ottoman editor Will Smiley will be a discussant), "Legal Contests & Disputes, Part I," "Law as Social History in the Late Ottoman Era," "Legal Contests & Disputes, Part 2."  See full preliminary program.

"Qur’anists in al-Andalus?" (5 Apr 2016 4 pm | Princeton, NJ). Incoming ILSP/SHARIAsource and CMES senior fellow Maribel Fierro will be speaking as part of the Institute for Advanced Study's Near/Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Lecture Series 2016/2017. She explores the production of religious and political authority sharing her study of how prophets accepted by Islam are represented. See full details. 

"Ocean of Law II: Islamic Legal Crossings across the Indian World" (12-14 Dec 2016 | Leiden). Leiden University is following up its 2015 conference on intermixed legal systems across the Indian Ocean world. This year the conference will be focused on how ideas of Islamic law circulated around the Indian Ocean. The due date for abstracts is 20 Sep. Call for papers.

"Changes in God’s Law: An Inner-Islamic Comparison of Family and Succession Law." Nadjma Yassaril's research group at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law is seeking scholars of Islamic family law to fill a post-doctoral position available starting in October/November 2016. Read more. 

The Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History (4-17 Jun 2017 | Madison). The American Society for Legal History and the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School are now accepting applications for their ninth biennial Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History. Applications are due on 1 Dec. Read more. 

“Law as Religion, Religion as Law” (5-7 Jun 2017 | Jerusalem). The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has issued a call for papers to bring together scholars from multiple disciplines (including law, religious studies, philosophy, history, political science and other relevant fields). Abstracts are due on 26 Oct.  Call for papers.

"Global Dynamics of Debating and Concluding Shia Marriages" (25-26 Aug 2017 | Amsterdam). The University of Amsterdam's workshop has issued a call for papers to bring together researchers working on empirical research about "debating and concluding Shia marriages, starting from the search for a suitable partner to the celebration of the wedding." Proposals are due on 1 Oct. Call for papers

UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law. JINEL is seeking papers for its 2016 volume. Published once a year, JINEL is the first publication of a Western law school to cover Islamic and Near Eastern law. It covers all legal issues, and seeks articles that critically analyze social, political, civil, historical, economic, and commercial topics.  Read more.

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