NEWS | 28 Feb 2017
Legal History of Religious Accommodation and Muslim Prisoners

Guest contributor Bernard Freamon discusses the history of religious accommodation in prisons. "Four Muslim prisoners incarcerated in four prisons in the Michigan prison system just settled a federal lawsuit against prison officials. The lawsuit, Conway v. Purves, No. 13-cv-10271 (E.D. Michigan, 2017) alleged that the prisoners were denied sufficient nutrition when they fasted during Ramadan in 2011 and 2012. Although the Michigan prison system employs dietary policies allowing prisoners to fast during Ramadan, the prisoners claimed that the caloric intake provided to them fell far below national standards, resulting in the deprivation of a healthy diet resulting from their choice to follow Islamic ritual laws mandating a fast during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan. The prisoners alleged that this set of circumstances violated their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, to be free from cruel and unusual punishment while incarcerated, and to equal protection of the laws, and that the prison officials also violated various federal statutory provisions...This settlement should not surprise anyone familiar with federal law or with the legal history of claims by incarcerated Muslims seeking recognition of their right to appropriately fast during Ramadan, in accordance with the dictates of Islamic law. In point of fact, there is an important history of claims by Muslim prisoners seeking the right to pray, fast, provide and receive charity, name themselves, marry, dress, employ hygienic practices, and engage in other behaviors mandated by Islamic ritual law. Consider the famous episode of Muhammad Ali and his use of Islam to appeal to social justice and to advance U.S. civil rights. Such claims can be traced back to the 1940’s, when Elijah Muhammad and members of the Nation of Islam were incarcerated for refusing to submit to draft board orders to join the U.S. military and fight in World War II, as in Clay v. United States. His fight was a prelude to the fight that these prisoners continue. In that sense, the actions of the Nation of Islam, and its campaign to achieve recognition and protection in America’s prisons, have been described by one author as 'landmarks in American religious and legal history.'Read more. Image credit: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

CASE: Conway v. Purves (E.D. Mich. 2013): Dietary Accommodations during Ramadan

Four Muslim prisoners brought a suit against the Michigan Department of Corrections, claiming that the meals that were provided to them during the month of Ramadan provided inadequate nutritional and caloric value. They cited violations of their First and Eighth Amendment rights. Read more. Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite | Star Tribune

EVENT: Khizr Khan Speaks at the Kennedy School

Khizr Khan spoke at the Harvard Kennedy School on February 15th, discussing the recent election among other topics. HLS professor and SHARIAsource founding editor-in-chief Intisar Rabb moderated the forum, asking Khan to share his personal insights on issues of public policy.  He focused on the Constitution as a guiding force for his moral compass, especially in times of personal conflict. Watch here.Image credit: Harvard Center for Public Leadership

Other News

SHARIAsource Scholars in the News
Canada is currently dealing with its own insurgence of fear derived from a misunderstanding of sharīʿa. The Star cited Noah Feldman's definition of sharīʿa in its recent reporting on this growing trend.

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.

Gibb Lectures :: Scholars and Rulers in Al-Andalus: Averroes’ Disgrace in Context (7 Mar 2017 | Cambridge, MA). Maribel Fierro , Senior Research Fellow, ILSP : SHARIARsource ; Visiting Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies; Harvard University; Director, El Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (CSIC) in Madrid, Spain, will be discussing her current research on a significant Andalusian judicial figure. 4.00-6.00p | Harvard University, CGIS South 020, Belfer Case Study Room

ILSP: SHARIAsource Fellow's Lecture :: Maribel Fierro on The Trial of a Heretic (Muslim Toledo, 11th Century): Judicial Procedure and Political Context (27 Mar 2017 | Cambridge, MA). Maribel Fierro, Senior Research Fellow, ILSP: SHARIAsource; Visiting Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies; Harvard University; Director, El Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (CSIC) in Madrid, Spain, will be discussing her current research on a significant Andalusian judicial figure during a lunch discussion. 12.00-1.00p | Harvard Law School, WCC 5052

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. 

Harvard Middle-East/Mediterranean Medieval History Fellowship (Cambridge, MA) The Department of History seeks applications for a College Fellow in medieval Mediterranean history. The appointment is expected to begin on July 1, 2017. Teaching duties will include three undergraduate courses in medieval Mediterranean history, including a course in the history of medieval Islam, with 25% of the appointment reserved for the Fellow’s own research. The Fellow will be expected to evaluate senior theses in accordance with Departmental practice and may also advise a senior thesis and help organize workshops. The appointment is for one year. Those with expertise in medieval Islamic legal or social history should also feel welcome to apply. Applications, including letters of reference, are due 17 Mar 2017Read more and apply here.

2017 Law & Social Inquiry Graduate Student Paper Competition (1 Jan - 1 Mar 2017). Submissions are now being accepted for Law & Social Inquiry 's annual competition for the best journal-length paper in the field of law and social science written by a graduate or law student.  Law & Social Inquiry  publishes empirical and theoretical studies of sociolegal processes from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We especially encourage those with new papers on Islamic law to submit papers. Entries due 1 Mar 2017 . Read more .

Bates College: Faculty Position: Politics Lecturer in Politics (Sep 2017 - Sep 2018). The Department of Politics at Bates College invites applications for a one-year visiting position focusing on Comparative Politics with a specialty in politics of the Middle East starting in the fall of 2017.  Candidates should have a Ph.D. completed or nearly complete. The Politics Department has implemented an innovative curriculum that uses concentrations on broad sets of ideas in political science rather than the traditional subfields.  Those applying should show a strong commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and scholarly research. Consideration of applications will begin 10 Mar 2017.

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). 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.

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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