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Law and Islam

The Islamic tradition has engaged issues of law and jurisprudence from early in its development. Over time, several independent schools of Islamic jurisprudence have developed, generating a spirited intellectual tradition of debate over the theories, methods, and content of Islamic jurisprudence. Islam has also shaped statecraft, state law, and mosque-state relations in Muslim majority and minority settings throughout the world. 

For more than 25 years, the Center has engaged in major research projects in law and Islam under the leadership of Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im. These projects have included such diverse themes as "Islam and Human Rights," "Islamic Family Law," "Women and Land in Africa," and "The Future of Shari'a." They have produced dozens of books and journal symposia, sponsored lectures and conferences around the world, and trained a new generation of scholars and human rights advocates in Muslim communities on all continents. More information about An-Na'im's work may be found here. In addition, the Center has sponsored lectures by luminaries in the study of Islam, including Vincent Cornell, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Mona Siddiqui. 



Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im

Affiliated Fellows

Hina Azam, Lee Ann Bambach, Devin Stewart, Vincent Cornell, Shlomo C. Pill 



Reason and Revelation: A Conversation on Natural Law in Four Religions

For our 2016 Berman Lecture, four scholars representing Islam, Christianity, Hindu, and Judaism discussed natural law.

Human Rights, Religion, and Secularism in Islam

In honor of his induction as Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law in 2003, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im lectured on, "Human Rights, Religion, and Secularism in Islam."

Mona Siddiqui: Islamic Law in Britain

Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies and Public Understanding, and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam at the University of Glasgow, spoke as part of CSLR's When Law and Religion Meet lecture series.

Legacy Projects

This project explored the Islamic argument for secularism and against the idea of an Islamic state. Directed by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, this volume yielded 10 seminars in Egypt, Indonesia, India, Sudan, and Turkey, and two major volumes. This project was funded by the Ford Foundation.
This residential program gave 24 scholars and activists from various parts of the Islamic world the opportunity to explore the relationship between human rights and Islam. Directed by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, this project yielded 57 public lectures throughout the Islamic world, 12 roundtale conferences, a major international conference in Istanbul, and a journal symposium. This project was funded by the Ford Foundation.
This project was a comprehensive analysis of the sources and scope of Islamic family law around the world and of possible reforms in light of international and domestic human rights norms. Directed by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, this project brought together six research teams who analyzed Islamic family law on the books and in action in Muslim majority and minority contexts. This project yielded five new volumes and a major new website. This project was funded by the Ford Foundation.
A comparative and critical study of the place of Islamic religious law in predominantly Muslim societies of the world. Directed by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, this project envisioned a positive and sustainable role for Shari'a, based on a profound rethinking of the relationship between religion and the secular state in societies. The project yielded an award-winning title, widely distributed in multiple languages around the world. The project was funded by the Ford Foundation.
This project was a comparative study of the use of religious family laws in various parts of Africa and in Western democratic nations with new African emigres. Directed by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im and M. Christian Green, this project yielded a comprehensive new website, 21 public forums in African lands, and a journal symposium. This project was funded by the Social Science Research Network.

This project was a comprehensive study of the roles that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have played and can play in forming and reforming theories, laws, and practices of sex, marriage, and family life. Directed by Don S. Browning and John Witte, Jr., led by 22 Center faculty, and drawing on more than 100 visiting scholars, this project yielded 19 major public forums, two international conferences, and 37 new volumes and journal symposia. This project was funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Inc., Lilly Endowment, Inc., and the Ford Foundation.



Muslims and Global Justice (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Islam and Human Rights, Collected Essays in Law (Ashgate, 2010), Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari'a (Harvard University Press, 2008), Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im

African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Islam and Human Rights: Advocacy for Social Change in Local Contexts (Global Media Publications, 2006), Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im and Mashood Baderin, eds.

Globalization and Jurisprudence: An Islamic Perspective, Emory Law Journal, Vol. 54, No. Special Edition (2005): 25-51, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Inter-religious Marriages Among Muslims: Negotiating Religious and Social Identity in Family and Community (Global Media Publications, 2005), Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Women's Rights and Islamic Family Law: Perspectives on Reform (Zed Books, 2004), Lynn Welchman

Women and Land in Africa: Culture, Religion, and Realizing Women's Rights (Zed Books, 2003), L. Muthoni Wanyeki