CanCode: Canonization and Codification of Islamic Legal Texts

Theorizing sharia-practices in Denmark based on empirical investigations

The CanCode project invites for a guest lecture with post-doctoral fellow Jesper Petersen (Copenhagen University)

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Based on ethnographic fieldwork and analysis of Islamic divorce archives in Denmark Jesper Petersen theorizes that Islamic legal practices are structured by what he calls the Islamic juridical vacuum. This means that not only is the power to determine the outcome of Islamic divorce cases often located outside Islamic institutions, but sharia is also in many cases defined by the social dynamic of communities rather than by religious authorities. This has several far-reaching implications such as the reduction of fiqh-terms to social semiotic resources employed when asserting power asymmetries or with which popular ideas about ethics is expressed – talking fiqh, so to speak – and the role of the Islamic legal tradition must be re-evaluated as Muslims who are in a position to define sharia may have no knowledge thereof.

Short Bio:

Jesper Petersen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Producing Sharia in Context project (Copenhagen University). Along with Niels Valdemar Vinding he won the Danish textbook award in 2018 for their book, Sharia og Samfund: Islamisk Ret, Etik og Praksis i Danmark. Furthermore, along with Anika Liversage, Petersen has in 2019-2020 conducted a national investigation of Islamic divorce practices in Denmark.

The lecture will be physical. For online participation, please contact us by email in advance.