CanCode: Canonization and Codification of Islamic Legal Texts
Guest lecture

What Happens when Islamic Law is Codified: Perspectives from Saudi Arabia

The CanCode project invites for a guest lecture on Islamic law and codification in Saudi Arabia.

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Abstract: Saudi Arabia is the last country in the Middle East without a comprehensive codification of the law. In most of their decisions, Saudi judges still refer to Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). Plans to codify Islamic law have met significant resistance by Islamic jurists (ʿulamāʾ) in the last decades. In Western scholarship, this resistance has mostly been explained as a consequence of the jurists’ fear of a loss of influence.

Based on an extensive reading of Saudi legal literature and interviews with leading figures in the Saudi judiciary, my talk explores the discourse surrounding the introduction of a codification of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia. By taking the perspective of the ʿulamāʾ and contrasting their views with those of European jurists and philosophers like Friedrich Carl von Savigny (d. 1861) and Jacques Derrida (d. 2004), I hope to challenge over-simplified assumptions about the codification of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia.

Bio: Dominik Krell is a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany. His doctoral work, which he finished recently, focused on the way Islamic law is understood and applied by Saudi courts. Dominik studied law, contemporary legal history and theory at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In addition to his legal training, he holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Culture of the Middle East from Freie Universität Berlin and an MSc in Social Anthropology from Oxford University.

Krell is a guest researcher at the CanCode-project, at IF/AHKR, UiB, November 2021