Montage

Note from the Director


The year is proving to be an exciting time of major transition and renewal for ILSP. I officially joined Harvard Law School and became Director of ILSP in January. Shortly thereafter, we hired Rashid Alvi as Deputy Director. Since, we have continued the old inherited traditions of ILSP fellows and have begun planning for the new.

As for the old, ILSP continued with a series of lectures by this year's cohort of Visiting Fellows, and the Islamic Finance Project held its biennial forum on Islamic Finance in April.

As for the new, expect the 2014–2015 academic year to bring exciting changes to ILSP as we re-launch the Program. Part of the excitement stems from the fact that I will be joined by Professor Kristen A. Stilt, currently Professor of Law and History at Northwestern University, as Co-Director in the Fall. After a long period without a permanent faculty director, ILSP will have two, both coming with new ideas to invigorate the study of Islamic law for specialists and comparatists alike. To our knowledge, Harvard Law School will be the only major law school in the United States with two tenured faculty who have expertise in Islamic law. This is a significant commitment to Islamic law by HLS, and we look forward to achieving the full potential of this commitment.

We intend to collaborate with other programs and professors at Harvard Law School, the wider Harvard University community, and the broader academic world on ILSP programs and projects. We have a pared down and more purposeful fellowship program, to which we are excited to welcome next year's very talented cohort. Additionally, we are keen to create opportunities for students and scholars to engage in ILSP projects, workshops, and conferences. For students, one example is the "Digital Islamic Law Lab," a seminar scheduled for the Spring and designed to provide an opportunity for targeted, supervised research and contributions to one of ILSP's exciting new projects, "SHARIAsource." For scholars, we plan to convene those interested in early Islamic legal history to share work on themes related to courts and judicial procedure in the medieval Muslim world.

SHARIAsource will be a centerpiece of ILSP, a new initiative that will provide an online portal to scholarly resources and analysis on Islamic law globally, in cooperation with scholars of Islamic law and related fields of comparative law and policy. SHARIAsource will partner with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University for development and technical architecture, and also rely on the advice of the MIT Center for Civic Media. We look forward to working on SHARIAsource in the coming months and years, and involving interested students, scholars, and other collaborators in the process.

In addition, Kristen Stilt brings new interests in human rights and animal rights as well as in the intersection of law and advocacy in the Muslim world more generally. A workshop next year will bring together academics and activists working in the area of women's rights, and a new seminar scheduled for the Spring will focus on difficult questions that arise at the juncture of international human rights law and some interpretations of Islamic law. We will also begin planning for a major conference on animals, law, and religion.

As we move toward re-launching ILSP, expect to see some changes in not only our programs and projects, but also our public face. ILSP's web presence will get a new and dynamic look in time to announce new programs and projects for 2014–2015 and beyond. We look forward to working with all those interested in the academic study of Islamic law.

Intisar A. Rabb
Professor of Islamic Law, Harvard Law School
Director, Islamic Legal Studies Program