Law in Muslim Contexts


Research Aims and Methods
Research in the area of law in Muslim contexts at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) takes a comparative approach across various Muslim and non-Muslim contexts and time periods.

A key element of this research is that it applies the methodologies of the social sciences to both past and present legal contexts. The general lack of anthropological and sociological work in the field has led to the adoption of an inter-disciplinary orientation to AKU-ISMC's research.

Research about law at AKU-ISMC focuses on the idea of law in Muslim contexts rather than Islamic law. The aim of this perspective is to promote the possible study of commercial, criminal, international and other branches of law.

AKU-ISMC's engagement with law in Muslim contexts has, to date, related to two interrelated fields - law and gender, and law and poverty.

International Workshop - Law in Muslim Contexts
The first initiative of the Institute in the field of law was a two-day international workshop, Law in Muslim Contexts, held on 17 and 18 November 2005 in London.

AKU-ISMC is developing a research agenda in key areas of concern to contemporary Muslim societies, one of which will be law. The aim of the workshop, consequently, was to deliberate upon the future involvement of the Institute in this area of study. In particular the focus of the workshop was the generation of ideas for future research programmes.

The workshop was attended by scholars working on various aspects of law in Muslim contexts with participants from a number of countries including: Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Norway, UK, USA and Yemen.

To view the workshop summary, please click here.

International Workshop - Islamic Norms and Legal Processes: The Interactions of Legal Practices and Theoretical Formulations
On 6 and 7 July 2009, AKU-ISMC hosted a workshop on Islamic norms and legal processes, chaired by Dr John Bowen, Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts and Sciences at the Washington University in St Louis.

The workshop acted as an opportunity to survey the work that has been conducted on legal anthropology in Muslim contexts, and raise questions about normativity, change and variation.

Presentations were made by scholars working in a variety of contexts, including England, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Syria and Tanzania.

To read more about the workshop, please click here.

Governance and Civil Society

Seminar on Governance and Development
On 7 March 2008, in collaboration with the London Middle East Institute at SOAS, AKU-ISMC hosted a Seminar on Governance and Development.

Held at the Ismaili Centre, London, the Seminar explored and analysed a range of development models across countries and regions which reflect a variety of socioeconomic, political and cultural realities. In particular, the seminar explored regions such as China, Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

Beginning with a panel which explored the China 'model' of economic development, the second panel focused on development models from Muslim contexts. The Seminar concluded with a panel which discussed the role of governance in the context of development.

The seminar was one of several academic events in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan, the Chancellor the University.

In 2009, as part of its publications programme with Edinburgh University Press, AKU-ISMC will produce a volume Development Models in Muslim Contexts: Chinese, 'Islamic' and Neo-Liberal Alternatives by Robert Springborg.

Research Fellowship Programme
The 2008/2009 Research Fellows are conducting research on various aspects of the dynamics of networks and institutions of social change in predominantly Muslim contexts. Among the projects is one which explores civil society in Bangladesh: