The Siyasa Project

ILSP has taken on a multi-year research focus on Islamic legal history, with the ambitious aim of instigating a new writing of the history of Islamic law. The Siyasa Project is composed of discrete studies of Islamic law, institutions, and authority in specific contexts, and the end result should enrich the field's understanding of how the Islamic legal system formed and was formed by historical Muslim societies.

The premise of the Siyasa Project is that both the jurist and the ruler were central to the Islamic governing legal system; neither could nor did function without the other. Where the jurist was immersed in the text so as to divine God's will, treating public interest as a secondary, complementary argument, the ruler's authority under siyasa was precisely to ensure the community's welfare, his only curtailment being the clear text of the written sources, which he could not flout. How did the two, and their respective institutions and law, cooperate within the legal system? Where did man-made legislation confict with the divine law, and how was this reconciled? What checks and balances did the Islamic legal system have, formally or informally, to bridle the unrestrained power of either at any given time, and when, and why, do we see these in operation? The answers to these and other questions provide the basis for the Siyasa Project and what we hope will be a revised articulation of Islamic law in all its modes and applications.

Results of the Siyasa Project, where available online, can be found below:

Nimrod Hurvitz, Competing Texts: The Relationship Between al-Mawardi's and Abu Ya`la's al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya (research project 2005-2006)