Network of British Researchers and Practitioners of Islamic Law
This project ended with the
final workshop in December 2009 at the
The term Islamic Law covers both the law as it is (and has been) practised in Muslim countries and communities, as well as the ideal system of rules and regulations which Muslims have thought should be practised. This proposed network aims to bring together UK-based scholars and legal practitioners working with these different conceptions of Islamic Law - both in their historical manifestations, but also in the contemporary period. Academic scholars and practitioners of Islamic Law rarely have the opportunity to share research, exchange ideas and explore possible collaborative research. This network aims to bring these scholars and practitioners together for four network sessions. Each session will consist of research papers, reflections on legal practice and opportunities for discussion concerning future activity. The academic theme of each session will concentrate on the experience of a particular "school" of Islamic Law. In the premodern period, most legal activity (be it teaching, writing or judging) in the Muslim world involved adherence to a particular tradition of legal interpretation (summed up in the Arabic term madhhab). The different madhhabs had divergent opinions on fundamental legal questions. These differences were due to differences in interpretation of the sources, as well as the personal views of the madhhabs' founders (whose opinions were always viewed as central to a madhhab's distinct character). There are four Sunni schools of Islamic law (Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali and Shafii, all named after their founders), but there are also Shiite schools (the two most vibrant being the Zaydi and Twelver) and the Ibadi school. There have also existed schools in the past which periodically have enjoyed resurgences in popularity. In the modern period, the madhhabs appear to have lost some of their intellectual power, as legislators and judges attempted to modernise the law in Muslim countries under the influence of Western European models. However, the decline of the madhhab has not been uniform. In some parts of the world, both in Muslim majority and minority contexts, the madhhab has retained its importance, or morphed to take on the challenges of a rapidly modernising society. The various madhhabs, dominant as they are in different parts of the Muslim world, are convenient themes with which to bring together legal scholars from different academic disciplines, as well as practitioners (such as lawyers, rights activists, legislators) to share their research and experiences. Each of the four network sessions will examine two schools over a two day period, with scholars examining the madhhab's formation, history and contemporary experience.
Once assembled, the participants
in the network will explore potential collaborative research, and the
possibility of developing a subject association for UK-based researchers on
Islamic law. There already exists the International Society for Islamic Legal
Studies, but it has few members in the
The network sessions will take
place at the
Anyone wishing further information about the Network should contact Robert Gleave (firstname.lastname@example.org).