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Law Library Will Mark Human Rights Day with a Discussion Centered on Islamic Law

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On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, the Law Library of Congress and the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division will recognize Human Rights Day with a panel discussion centered on Islamic law.

The discussion, “Perspectives on Islamic Law Reform,” will feature a panel of distinguished Islamic scholars. The panelists include Sherman Jackson, King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture at the University of Southern California; Issam Saliba, foreign law specialist at the Law Library of Congress; and from Harvard Law School, Intisar A. Rabb, professor of law and co-director of the Islamic Legal Studies program and Kristen A. Stilt, professor of law and co-director of the Islamic Legal Studies program.

Human Rights Day 2015
Human Rights Day 2015

Jane McAuliffe, world-renowned scholar of Islam and director of the Library’s National and International Outreach Division, will serve as moderator of the discussion which will explore new avenues and perspectives on Islamic law reform with a particular focus on reform within the framework of Islamic jurisprudence itself.

Professor Jackson is the author of Islamic law and the State: the Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī (Brill, 1996); On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghāzalīʼs Fayṣal al-Tafriqa bayna al-Islam wa al-zandaqa (Oxford, 2002); Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Towards the Third Resurrection (Oxford, 2005); Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering (Oxford, 2009); Sufism for Non-sufis?: Ibn ʻAṭāʼ Allāh al-Sakandarî’s Tâj al-‘arûs  (Oxford 2012); and Initiative to Stop the Violence: Sadat’s Assassins and the Renunciation of Political Violence (Yale, 2014). He has authored numerous articles on various aspects of Islamic law, theology, history and Islam and Muslims in modern America. He is listed by Religion Newswriters Foundation’s ReligionLink as one of the top ten experts on Islam in America and has been named several times among the top 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Intisar A. Rabb is a professor of law at Harvard Law School and a director of its Islamic Legal Studies Program. She also holds an appointment as a professor of history at Harvard University and as a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is the editor-in-chief of SHARIAsource – a joint project of ILSP and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard to create a portal designed to provide Islamic law content and context – which has recently received generous support from the Luce Foundation and the MacArthur  Foundation. Professor Rabb has previously served on the faculties of Boston College Law School and NYU, and as a law clerk for Judge Thomas L. Ambro of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She has published on Islamic law in historical and modern contexts, including the book, Doubt in Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press 2015), an edited volume, Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought (Michael Cook et al., Palgrave 2013), as well as numerous articles on Islamic constitutionalism, Islamic legal maxims, and on the early history of the Qur’an text.

Kristen A. Stilt is professor of law and a director of the Islamic Legal Studies Programs at Harvard Law School. She also directs the new animal law program at the Law School. Prior to coming to Harvard, she was Harry R. Horrow Professor in International Law at Northwestern Law School and professor of history at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on Islamic law and society in both historical and contemporary contexts. Professor Stilt was named a Carnegie Scholar for her work on constitutional Islam, and in 2013 was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. She has also received awards from Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays. Her publications include Islamic Law in Action (Oxford University Press, 2011) and “Contextualizing Constitutional Islam,” 13 International Journal of Constitutional Law 407-433 (2015).   Works in progress include “Constitutional Animals” and “Strategies of Muslim Family Law Reform.”

Issam M. Saliba is a foreign law specialist covering Middle Eastern countries, North African countries, and Islamic law at the Law Library of Congress. He has provided legal advice and analysis in these areas to Congress, executive branch agencies, and the judiciary since joining the Law Library in 2003. Mr. Saliba has written on a variety of legal topics, including on the Saddam Hussein trial; International Tribunals, National Crimes and the Hariri Assassination;The Place of Shariah Among the Legal Systems of the World,” European Journal of Law Reform (Issue #2, 2014); and Lebanon: Presidential Election and the Conflicting Constitutional Interpretations. Mr. Saliba is a member of the Beirut Bar and an associate member of the District of Columbia Bar.

We hope you will join us! The program will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the Montpelier Room, which is located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington D.C. 20540.  The event free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

For those readers who will not be able to attend the program, a member of the In Custodia Legis team will be live-tweeting the event via Twitter @LawLibCongress, using #IslamicLawReform.


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