CanCode: Canonization and Codification of Islamic Legal Texts

Canon or Code? Standardising and Transmitting Islamic Law

The CanCode-project hosts an international workshop on processes of standardisation of Islamic law, to be held in Bergen, June 16.-18. 2022. For more information see below.

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Please note: We first announced the workshop at the project website here. The information there will not be updated and this calendar entry will be updated instead.

General description of the event

In the CanCode-project (2020-24) we study change and development of Islamic law by using “canonization” and “codification” as conceptual starting points. "Codification" tends to be reserved for modern phenomena where the colonial or national state imposes new structures on the sharia, while "canonization" is commonly used to describe processes where texts are ascribed authority by a certain interpretive and scholarly community, usually in the pre-modern period. Both concepts have in common processes of selection and validation. During the kick off events we looked into how these concepts are currently understood and used in our field, at times in different ways.

For our upcoming project conference in June (16.-18) 2022 in Bergen we wish to step beyond the two concepts "canonization" and "codification" in order to focus on the processes behind them, again seeking to keep a comparative focus across the pre-modern/modern divide and using a diversity of empirical cases. We wish to draw in old and new cooperation partners and scholars by inviting to engage in four thematic panels: 1) Courts as a Locus for Standardization 2) Standardization of fiqh 3) Transmission of Knowledge and 4) Translation and Canonization. The four panels will be spread over three days.

Panel 1:   Courts and Standardization: Judges as authors of law

This panel focuses on the role of judges and other court actors - past and present - in formulating and arguing for certain interpretations of Islamic law. Judicial practice is constrained by informal codes and canons that often do not have any apparent legal status. These devises establish standards, patterns, and templates, but do not constitute rules in a strict sense. These constraints on adjudication render the discretionary power of judges to create law much weaker than it might appear at first glance. Court records provide a valuable vantage point lens to examine how judicial practices have been, and continue to be, informed by local social and legal contexts in which Islamic forces of legal homogenization and standardization influence the interpretation and application of Islamic law. The following questions are raised by the panel: What sources and principles constrain judicial practice? To what extent do judges adjust the law to changing social circumstances? How do they fill the legislative gaps and ambiguities? The panel invites scholars who work on premodern and present-day Muslim court records and adjudication in Muslim majority countries across disciplinary divides, such as history, anthropology, legal sociology, and political science. 

Panel 2:   Standardization of fiqh: Texts, genres, processes, structures and people

Fiqh is a discipline where diversity and counter arguments are valued. However, both for educational purposes, and for applicability in court, code-like texts were produced to reduce the otherwise fast-growing diversity of opinions and a potential destructive plurality of views. Where taṣwīb (every interpreter is right) is natural in any “free” knowledge system, in education and in court a standard is often needed. In his seminal article “The Social Logic of Taqlīd and the Rise of the Mukhtaṣar” by Mohammad Fadel from 1996 he describes how the Maliki and other madhahbs in the 13th century developed notions of taqlīd, introducing ranks of scholars, texts and legal rules, and soon designated certain abridgements or certain fatāwā compilations as canonical. The madhhabs are obvious and “classical” examples of interpretive and discursive communities engaging in various forms of standardization of Islamic law, most notably their mukhtaṣarāt and compilations of tarjīh (preference, here in the broadest sense). Other and newer forms of interpretive communities, or networks of scholars should also be taken into consideration as well as their relation to state power and local elites. By viewing standardization as always ongoing, processual and subject to power, we can also see attempts of change and adaptability, despite claims of stability and faithfulness to origin. This panel centres on fiqh as a classical genre, but also opens for comparison with other and modern phenomena of standardization of legal norms including textbooks and handbooks of positive law. 

Panel 4:   Translation and Canonization in Islam: Old and New Connections

The connection between translation and canonization of texts has not received much attention from scholars, neither in Islamic studies nor in other disciplines. In Islamic studies there has been a tendency among scholars to study texts in their original language, thus giving less attention to the topic of translation (with some important exceptions, such as the scholarship on the translation of the Quran, or recent work on vernacularization). In the field of translation studies there have not been many investigations of canonization either. The connection between translation and canonization nevertheless seems intuitive. When a text is translated, it is often because such a text is deemed as particularly important. Translation can thus be seen as a possible indicator of canonicity. When a text is translated into several languages, this may also enhance its status and contribute to canonicity. When a text is translated, it may also reach new audiences and language groups.   

At the same time, texts may be translated in order to be critiqued, or they may be translated and fail to resonate in the new context. The connections between translation and canonization can therefore not be taken for granted. Translation may also lead to adaptation and changes in canonized texts: How are the meaning of canonized texts changed when they undergo translation?   

This panel invites contributions who investigate the connection between translation and canonization, both in Islamicate intellectual history and in contemporary Muslim communities. The panel is open to a variety of methodological approaches, be it hermeneutical close-readings or sociological investigations of the social context of texts.


The event takes place on the groundfloor of the hotel called ZanderK www.zanderk.no/en/ 

Day one

11:00 Meet and registration

11:40 Words of welcome and introduction by Eirik Hovden (UiB)

Two short keynote speeches: 12:00 Mohammad Fadel ( U. of Toronto) Title: “The Mukhtasar as a Restatement of the Law” , 12:30 Baudouin Dupret (CNRS) Title: "Mind the step: Standardizing the Mind, Stepping into Positive Law (Egypt, 1897-1949)"

13:00 Lunch in the workshop hotel

Panel 1

14:00 Panel introduction by Nijmi Edres (UiB) and Monika Lindbekk (UiB/U. of Southern Denmark), 14:05 Ari Schriber (U. of Toronto), 14:25 Yasmin Amin (Orient Inst. Beirut), 14:45 Dominik Krell (Max Planck, Hamburg), 15:05 Coffee break, 15:25 Nurul Hoda (Kyoto U.), 15:45 Nijmi Edres, 16:00 Monika Lindbekk, 16:15 Ayang Utriza Yakin (SciencesPo Bordeaux), 16:35 Coffee break, 16:55 Comment by Dupret, 17:10-18:00 general discussion. Chair: Knut Vikør (UiB)

19:00 We leave the ZanderK hotel lobby together for the common workshop dinner in the evening (at the venue called Nøsteboden (20min walk (google map link). Food: Seafood. If you have not: please communicate any food issue.)

Day two

Panel 2 

09:00 Panel introduction by Eirik Hovden and Mahood Kooria (Leiden U./UiB), Presentations: 09:15 Mohammad Fadel (U. of Toronto), 09:30 Hakki Arslan (U. of Münster), 09:45 Mahmood Kooria, 10:00 coffee break, 10:15 Matthew Steele (Harvard), 10:30 Samy Ayoub (U. of Texas), 10:45 Eirik Hovden and Ebrahim Mansoor (UiB), 11:00 Mohammad Gharaibeh (Humboldt U. of Berlin), 11:15 Comment by Norbert Oberauer (U. of Münster), 11:30 Break, 12:00-12:50 Common discussion. Chair: Nijmi Edres.

13:00 Lunch in the workshop hotel

Panel 3

14:00 Panel introduction: Christian Mauder (UiB), Presentations: 14:10 Elias G. Saba (Grinnell College), 14:35 Matthew L. Keegan (Barnard College), 15:00 Christian Mauder, 15:25 Mohamed Noor (UiB), 15:50 Coffee break, 16:10 Aria Nakissa (Washington U. in St. Louis), 16:35 Asma Sayeed (UCLA) and Nour-Eddine Qaouar (Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies) 17:00 Panel keynote: Jonathan Brown (Georgetown U.), 17:30-18:00 General discussion. Chair: Anne K. Bang (UiB).

Dinner: self-organised

Day three

Panel 4

09:00 Panel introduction: Olav Elgvin (UiB), Presentations: 09:15 Johanna Pink (U. of Freiburg), 09:45 Muhammad Vasil and Ayoob Rahman (U. of Hyderabad), 10:15 Olav Elgvin, 10:45 Break, 11:00 Sara Nur Yildiz (U. of Florence), 11:30 Gulnaz Sibgatullina (U. of Amsterdam), 12:00 Hanaa Beldjerd (U. of Lille) 12:30 General comments and discussion.

13:00 Lunch in the workshop hotel

14:30 Summrarising, lessons learned and ways forward: Short introductions by Robert Gleave and Eirik Hovden. The final discussion ends at the latest 16:00; this marks the end of the official program of the workshop.

17:00 Common excursion for those who want to hike on Mount Floyen if weather permits. We use the cable car up and those who want can walk down.

Dinner: self-organised

Titles and Abstracts

This section is yet incomplete and will be updated

Panel 1 Courts as a locus of standardisation

Paper Title: On the Eve of Codification: Reconstructing the “Moroccan-Mālikī” Legal Tradition in Twentieth Century Morocco  

Author: Ari Schriber, University of Toronto  

Islamic legal historians have long grappled with the fate of twentieth century sharīʿa in codified form. My project interrogates the foundation of this phenomenon by delineating an Islamic legal canon of Moroccan judges and jurists directly before the nation’s first codification of sharīʿa (Mudawwana, 1957). Scholars have varyingly hypothesized that nineteenth- and twentieth-century state codes of sharīʿa caused a “transmutation” (Asad 2003), “transformation” (Layish 2004), or “rupture” (Hallaq 2004) of the Islamic legal tradition. In particular, the requirement to concretize singular rules ostensibly precluded Islamic law’s trademark multiplicity of opinions (ikhtilāf) and supplanted the epistemic authority of traditionally trained jurists (fuqahāʾ). However, such hypotheses largely stem from comparing the substance and methodology of codes with prescriptive Islamic legal literature—compendia, commentaries, and other collections. Seldom do these narratives actually trace change through sharīʿa court practice as it existed before and after codification. In considering whether codified sharīʿa singularly transformed Islamic law, a crucial question therefore arises: how did sharīʿa judges conceive of the applicable Islamic legal tradition the eve of twentieth-century state codification?   

I address this question through qualitative and quantitative analysis of the prevailing Islamic legal tradition in the first half of twentieth-century Morocco. First, I examine the legal treatises of two prominent early-twentieth-century Moroccan jurists, Muḥammad al-Ḥajwī (d. 1956) and Muḥammad al-Murīr al-Tiṭwānī (d. 1977). Both jurists articulate a delimited Mālikī textual tradition in Morocco while sharply criticizing their contemporaries’ singular reliance on Mālikī compendia—namely the Mukhtaṣar of Khalīl (d. 776/1374). al-Murīr in particular bemoans the massive commentary tradition and calls for a single unified volume of Mālikī law. Second, I use quantitative analysis to gain a more precise lens into the contours of this allegedly unwieldy tradition. Using statistical text analysis, I track the textual citations of over 570 rulings from the colonial-era Supreme Court of Sharīʿa Appeals (SCSA, 1921-1956). By analyzing their rulings, I identify over sixty individual legal texts and show their relative frequency in the 570 cases. Despite the data showing a clear hierarchy of certain texts—reflecting al-Ḥajwī’s and al-Murīr’s critiques—I contend that judges understood these Mālikī standards alonside more recent and Morocco-specific texts (e.g., nawāzil and ‘amal) as a distinct twentieth century “Moroccan-Mālikī” legal tradition. Establishing the quantifiable elements of this tradition will both 1) propose a methodology to delineate a contextualized Islamic legal canon, and 2) allow scholars to assess the impact of codification more precisely than comparing codes and fiqh texts alone.   

Paper Title: In Her own Right: Stories of Egyptian Women in Courts  

Author: Yasmin Amin, The American University in Cairo 

  Focusing on the role of judges in the pre-modern period by looking at some of the court cases and rulings, it becomes apparent that the judges applied the law practically, regardless of what was written in the canonized fiqh (jurisprudence) manuals, sometimes even blatantly disregarding the theories, codes and canons from the inherited legal manuals. Judges used their discretionary power demonstrating that legal theory was often divorced from the lived reality.   

While most academic studies focus on the schools of law to compare or contrast them, and to try to unravel the history of their development and evolution, the practical side of the law remains understudied. Little attention is given to how judges applied the law, what tools they used to argue for or against a certain decision they took and the possible reasoning behind this decision. The cases discussed in this paper offer new insights into the discrepancy between the formality and rigidity of the written theoretical canonized legal manuals and the lived reality, contesting some of the scholarly tendency to depict pre-modern women in the Islamic world in general and in Egypt in particular as utterly backward and oppressed, uneducated, ignorant of their rights and other polemical, and overgeneralized portrayals.  The cases analysed in this paper demonstrate the complex relationship between the judges’ role as the upholders of a body of theoretical jurisprudence and their role in shaping legal practice in the Egyptian society.   

The chosen cases focus on the plight of women and children, either as plaintiffs, defendants, or subject matter. The paper will argue that women were regarded as legal entities, knew their rights, filed their own cases without a guardian, and were held liable or acquitted or received their dues.  Though women were disadvantaged in many aspects of theoretical rules regarding testimony, women’s testimonies were accepted in court, regardless of their faith, marital status, being free or enslaved, despite of the theoretical aspects outlined in Islamic Law regarding women’s testimonies. Opinions range from completely rejecting female testimony in certain legal areas, to conditionally accepting it or requiring a supporting male testimony, to accepting women’s testimonies. The testimony of both Muslim women and women from religious minorities, even against Muslims, was accepted in a Sharīʿa court. While canonized legal theories do not consider non-Muslims equals to Muslims, placing prohibitions and restrictions on their testimony against Muslims, the actual treatment of non-Muslims in court suggests fairness and justice regardless of the plaintiff/defendant's religion, underscoring ethical norms. Other cases filed by women in court object to a husband’s abuse of the right of unilateral divorce, contest forced child marriage, demand that perpetrators of sexual harassment be punished, demand compensation for various misdeeds against women, defend against accusations of slander and zinā (adultery), and file for khulʿ (divorce initiated by the wife).  

The chosen cases reveal the voices of assorted Egyptian women, young and old, married, and unmarried, Muslims and belonging to religious minorities, slaves and their descendants, educated professionals, illiterate urban dwellers and peasants and the rulings challenge some prevalent academic discourses about women in pre-modern Egypt showing their resilience.  

Paper title: The Role of Judicial Precedent in Saudi Arabia 

Author: Dominik Krell, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law 

Little is known about the authority of judicial precedent in Islamic law. In theory,  Islamic judges are only bound to the sources of Islamic law and the established methodologyof Islamic jurisprudence. Instead of following earlier court judgments, judges are expected to deliver a fresh judgement for every case. Nevertheless, notions of a stable court practice can already be found in the writings of premodern Islamic jurists. My paper explores the idea of judicial precedent in Saudi Arabia,  the  last remaining major country in the Muslim world without a comprehensive codification of Islamic  law. The kingdom’s legal system is based on Islamic principles and is still largely under the control of trained Islamic scholars (ʿulamāʾ). Traditionally, Saudi ʿulamāʾ take a critical stance towards the authority of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence and argue for individual legal reasoning (ijtihād). Yet, at the same time, the ʿulamāʾ want to maintain a working legal system that can provide legal certainty and stability in the 21st century. The paper asks how Saudi ʿulamāʾ understand judicial precedent and examines its use to stabilise court practice in the Saudi legal system. By using Saudi Arabia as an example,  the  paper aims to shed light on the little-understood role of judicial precedent in the Islamic legal tradition. 

Paper title: The Multiple Pathways to Polygyny: A Comparison of Judgments on Polygyny Applications in Malaysian Shari’ah Courts 

Author: Nurul Hoda, Kyoto University 

Islamic Family Law enactments throughout Malaysia allow Muslim men to marry up to four wives at a time, on the condition that they are able to prove their economic ability to maintain multiple wives and families. The rigor with which men’s economic eligibility is assessed in the Shari’ah court plays out differently in each state, however, despite the relative standardization of the Islamic Family Law Enactments across the country. This paper compares polygyny applications retrieved from the archives of two different Malaysian Shari’ah courts – one situated in Malaysia’s wealthiest state, Selangor, and the other in one of its least affluent states, Kelantan. A close reading of these applications lodged between 2010 to 2015 reveals that while Selangor makes the division of matrimonial assets compulsory before granting permission to marry an additional wife, Kelantan does not. This paper examines these regional differences in the execution of the (same) law to argue that Shari’ah judges’ assessment of men’s eligibility for polygyny takes into consideration socio-economic variances and local phenomena such as the high rates of elopement at the Malaysian-Thai border. Tailored to the local context, these judgments can be read as an act of balance between accommodating to the growing demand for polygyny in an urban context and regulating such practices to ensure a fair and just practice.   

Paper title: Processes of standardisation of Islamic law in Israel: a case study

Nijmi Edres (University of Bergen) 

The paper aims at contributing at the scholarly discussion on processes of canonization and codification of Islamic legal texts by looking at the case of Israeli Shari’a Courts and the role of Muslim judges in Israel in bringing forward legal change and, at the same time, to provide for legal stability. The paper is based on the analysis of a textbook for legal practitioners, contextualized in the frame of the Israeli legal system and the challenges posed by the difficulties of issuing a new modern code of Muslim family law by part of the Israeli parliament. Against the background of previous scholarly discussions on taqlid and the function of mukhtasarat, the paper argues for the role of contemporary textbooks as ‘quasi-codes’ in contexts where modern legislation is silent or obstructed.

Paper title: Establishing paternal filiation (nasab): Islamic judicial politics in Egypt 

Author: Monika Lindbekk (University of Southern Denmark)   

Bringing by bringing the concept of code into dialogue with the concept of canon, the paper focused on the role of contemporary Egyptian judges in formulating and arguing for particular interpretations of Hanafi fiqh in an area of legislative silence, namely in cases regarding the establishment of paternal filiation (nasab). Recent decades have witnessed a rapid increase in legal-anthropological studies dealing with the implementation of shariʿa-based legislation in courts. Despite the richness of existing scholarship on the adjudication of Muslim family law, there is a paucity of research focused on the religious discourses of contemporary judges and how they contribute to bringing about change. In particular, little scholarly attention has been devoted to how contemporary judges use uncodified Islamic doctrines in areas where legislation is silent (Dupret et al., 2019). Since Egyptian law does not instruct judges on how to identify the proper fiqh rule, courts exercise considerable discretion. To learn how to sail the sea of classical fiqh, judges use and produce informal canons or codes. The paper examines what sources and principles constrain judicial practice when they use fiqh to fill legislative gaps and to what extent judges adjust the law to changing social circumstances. The paper also highlights the importance of key contextual factors, such as judicial training, time pressure, and the influence of computer technology, behind these developments. The paper approaches the subject by relying on an intertextual analysis of a specific genre, namely, court judgments (aḥkām) from five Cairenese family courts from the period 2007 to 2015. 

Paper title: Establishing Filiation Relationships (nasab) of Children Born out of Unlawful Sex (zina): Positivization and Standardization in Indonesian Religious Courts 

Author: Ayang Utriza Yakin, SciencesPo Bordeaux, France  

Indonesian religious courts’ practices have demonstrated profound methodology and epistemology development in the past two decades. In this paper, I am following the argumentation of Baudouin Dupret et.alii. (2019, 2021) that legal cognition has been transformed radically. The paper will use the ithbat al nasab (establishing filiation relationships) as a vantage point on the courts as a locus of positivization and standardization of rules and interpretation in Indonesian religious courts. The legal practice surrounding establishing filiation relationships is constructed by global development, scientific discovery, and local social and legal contexts. Using the legal praxeology approach, it will show through the case of ithbat al-nasab that rules are formulated and interpreted in a standardized way by judges to generate a pattern or standard model to be followed in diverse circumstances. The paper will study closely the ithbat nasab of children born out of an illicit sexual relationship (zina) in Indonesia in the following steps. First, After a short presentation of the historical and Indonesian legal system, it will present, as an introduction to our topic, the case of the ithbat al-nasab of the son of an Indonesian singer Machica Mochtar, in a lengthy judicial process 2008–2015. Her marriage to Moerdiono, a State Secretary of the Republic of Indonesia during Soeharto’s regime for two periods, 1988–1998, was either not registered or was a religious marriage only. She struggled to establish a filiation relationship between his son and father. Her judicial process marked a milestone that revolutionized the normative sphere of fiqh/Islamic legal tradition in Indonesian religious courts. Of particular importance was the question of the admissibility of DNA tests. 

Next, more importantly, in this development, I found in my ethnographic work in the religious court of Jakarta in 2016 that the establishment of affiliation relationships in religious marriages only has driven many young spouses to authenticate their children born out of zina. This is the case even more; since then, I have followed the phenomenon through the central repository of legal decisions from all Indonesian religious courts hosted by the Indonesian Supreme Court in the last five years, 2017–2021. We found an increasing number of ithbat al-nasab children born out of wedlock with the DNA test. This should be read as a legal revolution in an Indonesian context. The fiqh finds an extension (continuity, not rupture) in present-day substantive law and transformed into positive law (its nature). In other words, this revolution in the normative spheres transformed fiqh/Islamic legal tradition into positive law. 

Finally, we discovered a fascinating standardization of legal decisions on establishing filiation relationships in Indonesian religious courts. In this case, we will show how judges in Indonesian religious courts have followed this standardized template and mode of reference in the last five years. The legal issues on ithbat al-nasab of children born out of unlawful sex show that Indonesian religious courts’ judges follow the standardized adjudication work. The work of judges is facilitated by the decision-making system template, which makes decisions much more accessible by providing first a form of judgment for every case (in Mc. Word version) and second by template through a particular computer network system with the unique installed application. The presentation and form of court decisions follow the standard through the SIAPDA/SIPP template to produce their decision. This recent development in the past ten years shows that the Islamic judiciary system in actual Indonesian religious courts is the result of a global assemblage (Pelletz, 2020) where professional laws created a legal bricolage (Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1966 Ong & Collier, 2005).  

I conclude that the use of DNA in establishing paternal filiation is something new in Islamic law, and also giving maintenance and inheritance through wasiyah wajibah, to protect children born into non-marital and extramarital relationships, is something new, contrary to the opinion of the classical and post-classical Shafii fiqh – which is the Indonesian national Madzhab. This phenomenon should be read as a legal revolution in an Indonesian context (maybe also in the Muslim world). Indonesian religious courts’ practices have demonstrated profound methodology and epistemology development on paternity filiation. Judicial practices in Indonesia are shaped by legal homogenizing, standardization, and positivizing on the one hand and judges’ positivistic legal training with fiqh tradition on the other hand. Islamic legal tradition (fiqh) should be understood through non-fiqhi legal practice, and it has become positivized (Dupret, 2019, 2021). 


Panel 2 Standardisation of fiqh

Mohammad Fadel (U. of Toronto) 


During a hundred-and-fifty-year period beginning in the 7th/13th century, Egyptian Mālikī jurists produced a trilogy of texts – al-Jawāhir of Ibn Shās, Jāmi’ al-Ummahāt of Ibn al-Ḥājib and Mukhtaṣar Khalīl of Khalīl b. Isḥāq – that aspired to sum up the doctrine of their school. Known as mukhtaṣarāt, I have previously argued that these texts functioned in a manner similar to a code insofar as they, from a normative perspective, sought to articulate the school’s authoritative doctrines and from a sociological perspective, they were responsive to the need to provide predictability and accountability to the legal system. At the time I wrote my original article, I did not have access to either al-Jawāhir or Jāmiʿ al-Ummahāt, but in the meantime, both of these texts have been published, along with several of the more prominent commentaries on the latter. The publication of these two earlier works allows us to engage in a careful study of the evolution of this genre and how the process of writing mukhtaṣars impacted legal doctrine. In this presentation I will seek to accomplish two goals. First, justify borrowing the concept of the “restatement” from the American Law Institute as a good conceptual translation of this genre of legal writing, at least in the Mālikī context, and second, demonstrate the formal “progress” achieved in these three generations of restatements by doing a close reading of a peculiar Mālikī evidentiary doctrine: the admissibility of evidence of juveniles (shahadat al-ṣibyān). The presentation will show a distinct formal and substantive evolution in these three texts from one that unsystematically includes rules, legal controversies and legal arguments in the case of the Jawāhir to one in which the only concern is an objective presentation of the school’s going doctrine without any need to provide a justification for the rule in the Mukhtaṣar Khalīl. One of the aims of the presentation is not only to show that the differences between and among these three texts is non-trivial, but also to point the way to how we are now in a better position to trace doctrinal evolution within the Mālikī school. It is hoped that the method used in this paper may also be relevant for investigating doctrinal change in other schools as well. 


Hakki Arslan postdoc, U. of Münster 

Functional interplay between different genres and „Taqyīd iṭlāqāt al-mutūn“ as a hermeneutical tool for legal dynamismbased on the adab al-mufti Literature (16-19th centuries) 

With the rise of the different madhhabib the Islamic law underwent a process of canonization and standardization between the 11th and 14th centuries, which did not lead to a stagnation of the discourse, as it was often assumed. Instead it led to an increasing diversification of legal literature. New genres and sub-disciplines emerged where legal discourses were negotiated on different levels. The diversification of the legal genres served as a strategy to generate stability and flexibility and to strike the balance between theory and practice. While law remained largely unchanged in certain genres such as muktasar other genres like fatawa and rasa’il were used to negotiate new and relevant issues. In the adab al-fatwa literature, the hierarchy between different text genres is clearly regulated. Mukhtasar sit at the top of the hierarchy followed by the commentaries and then the fatwas. However, we can find in the same literature statements like “The abstract statements of the Mutūn are not taken into account [when giving fatwa] and it is not permitted to give fatwa on the basis of these abstract statements.”

Theoretically this means that mukhtasarat have the highest authority, but it is not allowed to judge with these statements without considering the contextual realties. Since in practice, the generally abstract norms usually must be specified in more concrete terms, which means that they often diverge from the doctrine. This divergence was often interpreted as concretization of the abstract norm. Accordingly, Ibn Nujaym cites a quote at the end of his first risāla, “The general statements of the fuqaha (iṭlāqāt al-fuqahāʾ) are mostly provided with qualifications (muqayyada bi quyūd) that intelligent students trained in the usul and furu know. The scholars only remained silent because they trusted the expertise of the students.” This statement opens the door for a very dynamic interpretation of the madhhab doctrine and establishes “the qualification of the abstract statements of the mutūn (taqyīd iṭlāqāt al-mutūn)” as one of the main tools for legal change. In this way, the stability of the law is to be preserved, but ist adaptability to new requirements is nevertheless  guaranteed.In my paper I will show how this tool was used in the hanafi school to renegotiate the abstract doctrinal norms in the mutūn.


Mahmood Kooria, Leiden University & Ashoka University  

Written and Unwritten Codes: Reflections on Shāfiʿī Standardisations  

In the long histories of the Shāfiʿī school of Islamic law, standardization of its diverse legal expressions had contrasting trajectories. On the one hand, many Shāfiʿī jurists worked with an extensive legal corpus written by its proponents since the ninth century, while many others who also claimed adherence to the school dealt with unwritten ethical, moral and social normative orders in order to standardise what was legitimate or illegitimate in their religion. Their opposing predicaments demonstrate the complex processes of standardising the fiqh and encourage us to rethink some of the existing unidirectional arguments on the history of codification. In this presentation, I try to substantiate my point on the basis of a brief overview of two extremely different cases: Ghazālī (d. 1111), as one example, worked to codify the school’s diverse strata of written legal traditions in the eleventh century by moving sequentially from sharḥ to mukhtaṣar. On the contrary, the matrilineal fuqahā engaged with different normative traditions of a women-centred social system and contributed to an unwritten matrilineal code. Despite the obvious contrasts between these two Shāfiʿī entanglements with written and unwritten laws, they both represent the larger ongoing processes of standardisation in the school and the results of their attempts sometimes brought out standard codes immediately (as in the case of Ghazālī) while others took several centuries or never resulted in a written standard code (as in the case of many norms and laws that still continue uncodified in the social system yet are part of a larger normative order).


Matthew Steele, PhD student, Harvard  

"An Islamic Law Without Fiqh?  Debates Over Dalīl in the Legal Literature of Colonial Sudan" 

Studies of Islamic law’s modern history have largely focused on the outsized role of reformists.  Colonial efforts to at once centralize and reduce the authority of Islamic law understandably dominate much of the literature.  So too does the emergence of new generations of Muslim intellectuals calling for freeing law from the suffocating effects of legal schools (madhhabs) and their demands for imitation (taqlīd).  Yet, the experiences of Islamic law’s traditional arbiters, its jurists, appear less frequently.    

Their exclusion from discussion often leaves the impression that classical legal specialists (fuqahā’) merely vanished with the emergence of colonial and post-independence governments.  It assumes a teleology both dangerous and deeply Western: rendered impractical by colonial reforms, traditional jurists simply receded to the margins of the Islamic World.  In their place stood more progressive scholars who offered a Sharī`a accessible to all Muslims without the encumbrances of outdated schools and their clerics.    

Of course, Islam’s traditional jurists did not disappear with the rise of modern Muslim states.  Nor were they silent regarding the prospect of legal reform.  Among Mālikīs, there existed a rich debate over the future of the school and the role of its fuqahā’ in response to the seismic changes transforming the Islamic World of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  That discussion most often returned to the nature of proof (dalīl) and the methodologies permitted for obtaining it, namely tarjīḥ and tashhīr.  Though each imposed different practical requirements – the former sought to produce legal opinions based on their preponderance of evidence and the latter according to their acceptance by jurists themselves – for most of their early modern history, the two as frequently doubled as indexes for the political orientations of those that employed them.  Opinions drawn from tarjīḥ supposed the need for a radical revision of the school’s hermeneutics, if not its doctrine, while those produced through tashhīr presumed their continued legitimacy.  Nothing less than the gates of ijtihād seemed to swing in the balance, opening with each rājiḥ view and closing again with the school’s mashhūr position.  

This paper explores a curious byproduct of the school’s renewed preoccupation with proof in jurisprudence: the emergence of a subgenre of abridgments (mukhtaṣarāt) and commentaries (shurūḥ) concerned less with legal dicta than the evidence that substantiated it.  It focuses on the Mālikī school of late colonial Sudan, asking how various contests over dalīl informed a legal community wrestling with its claim to legitimacy as the country approached independence.  I do so through a study of the lives and scholarship of two author-jurists, Uthmān b. Ḥasanayn Barrī al-Ja`lī (d. 1960) and Abū Ṭāhir Ḥasan Fāy al-Bejāwī (d. 1984).  The paper explores how their responses to pressure for reform – both from within and without – produced not only remarkably different orientations to proof in fiqh, but the very forms of abridgment and commentary from which they chose to articulate their positions.  I consider how their selection of epistemological and literary terrain encouraged a particular life of their texts, revealing how it imagined a distinct audience, approach to legal education, and a notion of Mālikī authority and doctrine within the rapidly changing institutions of midcentury Sudan. 


Samy Ayoub,  University of Texas  

A Critique of Egyptian Civil Law: The Road Not Taken 

This paper will focus on a set of key arguments presented by a coalition of scholars, judges, lawyers, and political actors formed to stop the ratification of Egyptian Civil Law in 1940s Egypt. It addresses a suppressed narrative on the impact of the Egyptian Civil Code and its consequences in relation to franco-Egyptian law, Islamic law, courts, and the entire legal system. My comments are based on Naqd al-Qānūn al-Madanī or A Critique of the Egyptian Civil Law, published a few months before the ratification of the civil code legislation before the Egyptian parliament. This push to install the ratification of this legislation in 1948 Egypt included sending petitions to the King and mobilizing key actors across the Egyptian political scene to intervene. I argue that this critical engagement with the draft of the Civil Code should be read as an alternative vision of law that included a diverse coalition of judges, lawyers, jurists, Azhari scholars, and even military figures. Its goal was to mitigate the impact of adopting Europeans codes by the secular political elite in Egypt at the expense of the existing legal plural order which maintained balance betwen codified and uncodified law along with a role for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal traditions.  


Eirik Hovden and Ebrahim Mansoor (PhD student), University of Bergen  

Phases and processes of standardisation in pre-modern Zaydi fiqh

Ebrahim Mansoor will provide a brief history of Zaydi fiqh and present preliminary key findings from his newly started dissertation work on the period between 1200-1600 CE. Mansoor will demonstrate how certain Yemeni Zaydi works became canonical and also how most fiqh works lost their canonical status or fell out of use over time, whereas some few retained the canonical status. 

Eirik Hovden will briefly present several different phenomena of standardisation: First, how a specific sharḥ (the Sharḥ al-azhār) became the frame on which new ḥawāshī were organized, produced by famous scholars and judges under the Qasimi dynasty between 1600 and 1800 CE. These ḥawāshī first accumulated organically and unsystematically, but were around 1700 standardised in the sense that they henceforward appear more or less identical in most manuscripts. One can argue that these ḥawāshī formed a new layer of legal canon. These ḥawāshī were later subject to a standardisation scheme called tadhhīb where certain rules were chosen by the “madhhab” around 1750 by adding a sign above certain rules, directly in to the fiqh manuscripts. The result was a coherent, almost codified layer of fiqh

Parallel to the legal authority of the madhhab, the Zaydis also recognise the temporal legal authority of the Zaydi imams (caliphs), at times in conflict with, and overruling, the madhhab. Imams had their own fatwā collections and decrees (ikhtiyārāt) addressed to their judiciary and their governors. Some of their chosen rules were partly re-integrated into fiqh. We therefore see several interrelated standardization processes as answers to legal diversity that some saw necessary to harness. 


Mohammad Gharaibeh, Berlin Institute for Islamic Theology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin  

Hadith as source of law? The intersection of ḥadīth and law in the Cairene scholarship in the Mamluk period  

It is a common assumption that jurists should base their rulings on ḥadīth as a second source of law. In premodern societies, legal practice, however, shows that jurists used only a restricted corpus of hadith to base their rulings on. Following the rulings of earlier jurists and drawing arguments by analogy were the prevalent methods to ensure a predictability and stability of law. This is especially true for the Ḥanafī school of law but can also be observed in the history of the other schools as well. In the early 14th and 15th century Cairo, ḥadīth became an important resource to gain social status and cultural capital. Some collections and treatises on the ʿulūm al-ḥadīth became almost canonical and were a shared ground for rivalries between Shāfiʿī and Ḥanafī scholars. The number of works that evolve around ḥadīth and its related topics seem to be endless, among them collections of the aḥādīth al-aḥkām, works that refer legal rulings to the ḥadīth they are allegedly base upon, and works that trace back used ḥadīth to the sources they are transmitted in (takhrīj). With regard to Ḥanafī scholarship, who engaged actively in this trend, this is an exceptional development.  

This paper investigates the Cairene scholarship, their ḥadīth related writings as well as their output in Islamic law to see whether the engagement with ḥadīth has changed their approach to law. A fundamental part of the paper is the question how the social struggle and rivalry over social capital impacted their engagement in ḥadīth and law. Hence, the rivalries between Shāfiʿī and Ḥanafī scholars, in particular, will be at the center of this study.  


Panel 3 Transmitting Canonized and Codified Legal Knowledge in Islamic Societies: Practices, Genres, and Institutions  

Elias G. Saba (Grinnell College): Canonizing al-Furūq: Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī’s Text on Legal Canons 

Anwār al-burūq fī anwāʾ al-furūq by the Mālikī jurist Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī (d. 684/1285) is one of the most famous legal texts written in Mamluk Cairo and became a standard expression of Mālikī jurisprudence. This was not particularly surprising given both al-Qarāfī’s personal renown within Cairo during his lifetime, where he became the chief Mālikī justice, and his prolific written corpus. Contemporary scholars, such as Mohammad Fadel and Sherman Jackson, and have also relied on the text to unlock important findings about the history of Islamic law. This paper will explore two related issues with this work: (i) it does not align with the generic constraints of the legal distinctions genre and (ii) the problems that early commentators found with al-Qarāfī’s text. 

I will first discuss the text itself in terms of its form and content and show how the work should be understood as a work of substantive legal canons (qawāʿid) rather than as a text of legal distinctions. This identification helps clarify the role of legal distinctions within the history of Islamic law. More importantly, the generic identity of the text helps us understand the relevance of Shāfiʿī influence on al-Qarāfī’s legal thought.  

Second, I will discuss the problems that early Mālikī commentators found with al-Qarāfī’s text. In particular, Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Baqqūrī (d. 707/1307-08) and Ibn al-Shāṭṭ (d. 723/1323) both complained that al-Qarāfī was unable to complete the final draft of his text due to his popularity as a teacher. In other words, the work as disseminated was an early edition, which accounts for what they perceive as its lack of polish and finesse.  

Put together, these two threads highlight the pioneering nature of al-Qarāfī’s text. The text was highly influenced by al-Qarāfī’s study of Shāfiʿī law and the Shāfiʿī attention paid to legal canons. At the same time, something about this new text made contemporary Mālikīs uneasy about the text, even as they gave the text a privileged position within the Mālikī canon. 

Matthew L. Keegan (Barnard College): Hanbali Legal Riddles in the 9th/15th Century 

Abu Bakr al-Jurāʿī (d. 883/1478) was a Hanbali jurist who composed a work of furūʿ-based legal riddles entitled Ḥilyat al-Ṭirāz fī Ḥall Masāʾil al-Alghāz. In this work, he drew heavily upon the Ṭirāz al-Maḥāfil fī Alghāz al-Masāʾil, a Shāfiʿī book of furūʿ-based riddles by al-Isnawī (d. 772/1370). The Ḥanbalī book of riddles thus presents itself as the "ornament (ḥilya)" upon al-Isnawī's "brocade (ṭirāz)." In many instances, al-Jurāʿī presents al-Isnawī's Shāfiʿī riddle with a Ḥanbalī commentary. Whereas legal riddles emerged in the 8th/14th century among the Mālikīs, Shāfiʿīs, and Ḥanafīs, this 9th/15th century collection appears to be the first Ḥanbalī collection of furūʿ-based riddles. In addition to commenting on Shāfiʿī riddles, al-Jurāʿī also reformulates Ḥanbalī furūʿ opinions as riddles, drawing heavily from the Ḥanbalī jurist Shams al-Dīn Ibn Mufliḥ (d. 763/1362) while also comparing opinions within the Hanbali school. This paper examines al-Jurāʿī's riddle collection and explores how it differs from riddle books in other madhhabs. The paper shows how legal riddle circulated and survived in particular kinds of multi-text manuscripts (majmūʿas). This analysis of a Ḥanbalī collection of riddles shows that the practices and genres of riddling were one mode of inter-madhhab discourse. Al-Jurāʿī's riddle collection highlights how riddling was not only a mode of legal entertainment and education but also a way for scholars to think with the materials of other madhhabs.  

Christian Mauder (University of Bergen): On the Usefulness of Useless Knowledge: Ḥanafī Legal Riddles and the Culture of Learning at the Late Mamluk Court

The goal of this paper is to reflect on the interconnections between a genre, a social practice, and an institution which have hitherto not received much attention in Islamic legal studies. This lack of attention is at least partly due to the fact that the topic of the paper seems to be quite removed from what is often considered useful legal knowledge, i.e., canonized legal knowledge that finds application in courts. The genre of legal writings the paper focuses on and that might sometimes be misinterpreted as useless are collections of legal riddles. The social practice under scrutiny is the holding of learned salons or majālis that included curiosity-driven discussions about questions of law that were often not tied to concerns of immediate practical usability. The institution examined in the paper is the Mamluk royal court, which constituted the political center of one of the most powerful polities of the Islamic middle period, but is rarely discussed as venue of legal learning.  By studying the example of one specific collection of Ḥanafī legal riddles and its relationship with the majālis convened at the court of the pen-ultimate Mamluk Sultan Qāniṣawh al-Ghawrī (r. 1501–1516), the paper seeks to demonstrate that in order to fully understand processes of transmission and canonization of legal knowledge, we need to cast our net wider than focusing only on what was used in courts and taught in institutions of higher learning. Rather, we should also be open to the possibility that Islamic legal learning and its textual tradition were shaped by institutions and practices that catered at least as much to the curiosity and esthetic expectations of the people involved in them as to their desire for practically useful knowledge. Such openness will also require us to rethink he very notions of “useful” and “useless” legal knowledge.

Mohamed Aidarus Noor (University of Bergen): ‘Becoming a Canon’: History, Process and Context in the Canonization of Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn along the Western Indian Ocean Coast in the 19th and 20th Centuries 

Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn wa-ʿUmdat al-Muftīn is a highly important fiqh text authored by the Syrian Shāfiʿite jurist Zakariyyā Yaḥyā b. Sharaf al-Nawawī (1233–1277). In the Western Indian Ocean, Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn has long been in use as teaching material in madrasas and as reference material in the qādīs’ courts in the towns of Barawa, Lamu, and Mombasa, and on Zanzibar and Ngazija. The aura of authority of Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn in Swahili society comes from its wide use on fiqh matters by local scholars and qādīs.  

This research project seeks to study when, how, and by the actions of whom Minhāj al-Tālibīn acquired its status and authority in its process of canonization. In investigating this process, the study shall target specifically questions of selection and validation of legal texts, the actors and participants involved, and how to understand the construction of boundaries of canonicity in relation to the usage of Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn in the Western Indian Ocean littoral. To address these questions, the study focuses, specifically, on four factors that aided the canonization of Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn in Swahili East Africa, namely (1) education with special regard to the role of influential local scholars and the role of madrasas in the transmission of Islamic knowledge; (2) political influence, including from both the Bū Sā īdī Sultanate of Zanzibar and European colonial administrations; (3) cultural practices such as Sufi traditions and poetry; and (4) technology and media including the transition from manuscripts to print and the role of mass media. 

Aria Nakissa (Washington University in St. Louis): Canonization Processes at Modern Islamic Religious Universities: Al-Azhar University and UIN Syarif Hidaytullah 

This paper examines processes of canonization at two of the world’s most important  modern religious universities; namely, al-Azhar University in Cairo and UIN Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta. Data is drawn from several years of anthropological fieldwork within both institutions. The paper discusses four key canonization processes present at the universities. 

First, there is “text selection”. Canonization involves selecting particular legal/religious texts, and focusing intense interest on small segments within these texts. These segments are studied, commented upon by teachers, cited in scholarly research, and committed (in some form) to memory. In modern Islamic universities emphasis is placed on a variety of premodern texts which were much less prominent in the past (e.g., texts written by Ibn Taymiyya, al-Shāṭibī, Ibn Khaldūn).  

Second, there is “curriculum structure.” Canonization does not merely involve reading specific texts. It also involves approaching these texts within through the broader intellectual framework inculcated by the overall curriculum. The overall curriculum may include different types of courses. These include courses on traditional religious subjects; courses on non-Sharīʿa legal systems (e.g., Egyptian state law, Indonesian state law, international human rights law); courses on state ideology (e.g., Egyptian nationalism, Pancasila, “moderate” Islam or “wasaṭiyya”); and courses on history, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. The overall curriculum at modern Islamic universities differs greatly from that found at premodern madrasas.  

Third, there is the process of “differentiating the essential”. Canonization involves differentiating between various types of ideas and norms found in legal/religious texts. On one end of the spectrum, there are ideas and norms which are considered to be essential to Islam, and therefore applicable in all times and places. On the other end of the spectrum, there are ideas and norms which are considered to be valid only in specific past times and places. At modern Islamic universities, the process of differentiating the essential involves general theories of civilizational progress/development, specific concepts of Muslim identity (often tied to the national state), and selective use of premodern Islamic legal doctrines (e.g., Maqāṣid al-Sharia, the ʿIbādāt-Muʿāmalāt distinction). 

Fourth, there is “pious practice”. Thus, Islamic universities expect students, teachers, and administrators to maintain certain forms of pious practice. These forms of pious practice only concern select portions of the Sharīʿa. For instance, they do not concern implementation of the ḥudūd or commercial transactions involving land. Rather, they concern certain readily observable daily behaviors involving worship, dress, diet, gender relations, and entertainment consumption (e.g., norms concerning gender segregation, veiling, beards, music, and film). These daily behaviors are shaped by university regulations, the built structure of the university itself, and social networks which extend well beyond campus. The pious practice of particular norms operates to elevate their importance and canonize them.     

Asma Sayeed (UCLA) and Nour-Eddine Qaouar (Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies): Teaching Law at Dār al-Ḥadith: Conformity, Creativity, and Hybridity in Contemporary Islamic Education 

The curricula of premodern madrasas have been analyzed by George Makdisi, Francis Robinson, and others to shed light on a number of issues related to Islamic education. Less attention has been paid to the modern phenomenon of syllabi which potentially offer a more granular view. As a document typically authored by an individual professor, a syllabus resides at the nexus of textual traditions, instructional practices, pedagogical creativity and vision, and institutional regulations. In the context of Islamic higher education, such documents serve as vital archival sources and shed light on how contemporary pedagogical and textual traditions have evolved and how textual canons are perpetuated or altered in educational contexts. A syllabus thus creates a space that can foster innovation as well as conformity with canonical textual traditions.  

This paper uses syllabi in the fields of fiqh and uṣūl al-fiqh as a starting to point to explore a range of questions about textual canons in Islamic education. The syllabi are drawn from Dār al-Ḥadīth al-Ḥassania, a leading Moroccan institute of higher education, which combines practices of a traditional madrasa and a secular university, and represents a growing trend towards hybridity in Islamic higher education. A close examination of the syllabi helps us reconstruct how these religious sciences (fiqh and uṣūl al-fiqh)are conceived, the perpetuation of textual canons in legal education, and the deployment of a range of practices, such as reading, memorization, and analysis, which can in turn reinforce or undermine the canonicity of textual traditions. In the context of Morocco, it is also instructive to examine how institutions such as Dār al-Ḥadīth integrate and perpetuate the national Mālikī-Ashʿarī-Sufi creed. The paper will set selected syllabi in the context of decades-long educational reforms in Morocco which created dual tracks of “modern” and “traditional” education in the hopes of balancing competing imperatives in the post-colonial period. I n modern pedagogical theory and practice, a syllabus may also serve as a creative canvas for professors allowing them to embed their own intellectual journeys and pedagogical vision into the document. To shed light on this element of individual authorship, this paper will integrate interviews with a leading Islamic law professor at Dār al-Ḥadīth, who helped to craft one of the selected syllabi. Finally, the paper will provide an initial analysis of how we can understand the evolution of textual canons and instructional in legal education in light of prior research (such as the aforementioned studies of Makdisi and Robinson) on pre-modern curricula. 

Panel 4 Translation and Canonization: Old and New Connections 

Gulnaz Sigbatullina (University of Amsterdam, George Washington University): Modern Translation of Islamic Literature into English by Converts to Islam 

The paper analyses translations of Islamic literature into English produced by converts to Islam in the period between the 1970s and 1990s. It brings into attention the issues of source text selection (what texts are translated?), authority (what is the status of a convert-translator?) and dissemination (who is the target audience?). The symbolic status of converts as highly educated native speakers of English, trained in Arabic and with knowledge of Islamic theology has the potential to render these translations authoritative not only among other European/US converts but also among young, second-generation Muslims born and raised in the West. 

Johanna Pink (University of Amsterdam): The paradoxes of canonization through translation: Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373) as a global exegetical authority  

Ibn Kathīr’s (d. 1373) massive Qur’anic commentary has been translated into at least a dozen languages and probably more, from English to Indonesian. No Qur’anic commentary has been translated more often in the modern period. Ibn Kathīr has become the canoncial exegete par excellence, and the translations of his work have elevated him to an unparalleled position of authority. However, a close study of the phenomenon reveals an underlying paradox: The translations simultaneously cast Ibn Kathīr’s tafsīr as the most authoritative Qur’anic commentary and as a work that is in dire need of correction because it does not quite satisfy the editors’ demand for purity, authenticity, rationality, and unambiguous guidance. My analysis of twenty-five translations of Ibn Kathīr’s tafsīr in four languages will trace the roots and effects of this paradoxical attitude towards a premodern work of Qur’anic exegesis. I will furthermore show that the abridgments and corrections made by translators are very often based on Arabic editions of Ibn Kathīr’s tafsīr and that the influence of the Arab world, despite a huge increase in translations of Islamic „classics“, continuous to be profound.  

Hanaa Beljerd (University of Lille): Terminological Adequacy Levels in Islamic law Translation : the case of translating the term « qānūn » in the Algerian Family Code.

The Algerian Family Code (French: Code de Famille, Arabic: قانون الأسرة ), enacted on June 9, 1984, specifies the laws relating to familial relations in Algeria. It includes strong elements of Islamic law, French Law and Human Rights Law. Then, this Code was translated from Arabic into French. I use here translation as a metonym for secular transformations. However, terminological problem solving constitutes a key element of legal translation competence as reflected in the quality of legal translation as a product. In this context, legal semantic accuracy and intertextual consistency are paramount to achieving adequacy and quality (Prieto Ramos 2014, 2015).  

This paper will address variability and adequacy levels in the translation of the term « qānūn » as part of a large-scale comparative study on legal translation between Arabic and French. I explore then the differences between historical Islamic terms and secular terms in order to demonstrate that coloniality generates religion and religious law; in turn, this notion «qānūn» convert from (sharīʿah) or “sharia in French translation” in both Arabic and French languages in other context. The results obtained will be combined with the qualitative analysis of illustrative example of Arabic-French terminological problems. The degree of correspondence between the translation decisions and the relevant recommendations in Islamic terminological databases will also be analyzed with a view to highlighting the main challenges, and the skills needed, in Islamic legal translation and Islamic legal terminology management. 

Sara Nur Yildiz (University of Florence): Canonizing the Hidaya in the Ottoman Empire: Ottoman Turkish translations of the Wiqāya in the Sixteenth Century in Pursuit of an Imperial Ottoman Hanafism. 

How did vernacularization of Islamic law texts aid the Ottoman state’s attempt to regulate Islamic religious practice and belief among its political elite as well as its Sunni subjects in the late sixteenth century? In addressing this broad question, this paper proposes to look at how Islamic substantive law was popularized in the sixteenth-century Turcophone Ottoman world through textual engagement with the Hidaya tradition. Burhān al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Abū Bakr al-Farghānī al-Marghīnānī (d. 1197), the Hidāya fī’l-furūʿ (A Guidance in Particular Points) has long served as the basic manual of Islamic rites and observances for Muslims of the Hanafi school of law. Its dominant position in the interpretation of Hanafi law is demonstrated by the large number of explicatory texts it spawned; Brockelmann shows over 40 commentaries as well as more than 30 glosses, superglosses, versifications and abridgements of the work.   

In this paper I propose to examine Ottoman Turkish translation of one of the most popular Arabic epitomes of the Hidāya, the Wiqāya al-Riwāya min Masāʾil al-Hidāya (The Trusted Narrative on Issues in the Guidance), composed in the thirteenth century by Burhān al-Sharī‘a (d. 673/1274). I focus specifically on Şemsī Ahmed Paşa’s (d. 988/1580-81) mathnawī verse translation of the Wiqāya. First I compare it to the earlier mid-15th-century versified Turkish vernacularization of the same work by Devletoğlu Yūsuf Balıkesrī, as well as with the near contemporary prose translation of the Wiqāya by Kurd Mehmed Efendi (d. 1587). Finally, I contextualize the popular reception of Hanafi law via vernacularization in its cultural and political contexts by looking at how the literary activities of Şemsī Ahmed Paşa were connected to his elite status and cultural outlook. Not only did Şemsī Ahmed Paşa serve as vezir and military commander (serving on the eastern front against the Safavids) under Selim II, and continue state service as part of Murad III’s inner circle of trusted officials, but he was also highly acclaimed for his poetic and literary production at the Ottoman court. Furthermore, Şemsi Ahmed Paşa highlights in his translation of the Wiqāya his ancestral claims as a descendant of the famed Muslim conqueror and companion of the Prophet, Khālid ibn al-Wālid (d. 642).  

I argue that Şemsī Ahmed Paşa’s translation of the Wiqāya was an elite cultural project of socio-religious acculturation to a certain proscribed imperial Ottoman Sunnism that was shaped by various sixteenth-century developments and sensibilities. Indeed, by examining the dynamics of vernacular understandings of Islamic law, I hope to shed light on the development of Ottoman Hanafi Sunnism at a time when the Ottomans were attempting to “imperialize” Hanafi Sunni practice and belief while engaged in extended military and ideological conflict with Safavid Iran. 


Ayoob Rahman Nellikkunnummal and Muhammad Vasil V N (University of Hyderabad): Contextualising Law - Translations of Fatḥ al-Muʿīn in Malabar, South India 

Different schools of Islamic law have been popularised through the active process of textual and scholarly travels at various historical junctures. The texts such as Minhāj al- Ṭālibīn written by Imām Navavi in the thirteenth century tried to canonise Shāfi Maḏhab through different schemes of cohesion, prioritisation and hierarchisation of legal opinions articulated by the Shāfiʿī scholars since the time of Imam Shāfiʿī. Although it had a limited circulation beyond the Middle-Eastern regions where the largest followers of the Maḏhab reside, its circulation was intermediated through the commentaries such as Tuḥfat al-Muḥtāj by Ibn al-Ḥajar al-Haytamī written in the sixteenth century. Following Tuḥfat, a famous sixteenth-century scholar from Malabar, and disciple of Ibn Hajar, Zayn al-Dīn Makhdūm Jr wrote a masterpiece in Shāfiʿī fiqh titled as Fatḥ al-Muʿīn. This text was written as a commentary to his own text titled Qurrat al-ʿayn amid political turmoil consequent to the brutal Portuguese incursions into Malabar in the fifteenth century.  

Fatḥ al-Muʿīn gained unprecedented popularity and authority among the Muslim scholars of Malabar, and it was instrumental in popularising the Shāfiʿī Maḏhab in the region. The text has been widely studied and taught in higher learning centres in Malabar and other parts of Southeast Asian regions such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Fatḥ travelled beyond the time and is still considered an undisputed authority of Shāfiʿī Maḏhab in Malabar. Several commentaries are available for Fatḥ in Arabic and vernacular from different parts of the world. Fatḥ has been translated multiple times into Malayalam as well. So far, five translations have been published in Malayalam within the span of fifty years, and each translation gets multiple editions producing thousands of copies. These translations inform the popularity of Fath and how much it is valued in the contemporary fiqhi canon. At this outset, this paper tries to analyse different translations of Fatḥ written in Malayalam on various occasions and to understand how differently the translators located the text in the modern time. Drawing upon different paratexts added to the translations, such as prefaces, endorsements, footnotes, and publishers’ notes, the paper analyses the new interpretations given to the text to fit into the contemporary time and space. 


More detailed practical information

Here we will update with more detailed practical information:

This is a physical event.

A limited Zoom offer will be given for those who are invited and cannot come. A link will be sent individually.

If you experience re-booking or delay in your travel, please notify your panel organiser and Elin Arntsen so we can adjust the program in time. Any issue related to bookings please contact the travel agency Berg Hansen directly +47 22008050 or the travelagency/carrier you used, if paying yourself.

Arrival. The participants will be in three hotels, most will stay in the workshop hotel called ZanderK www.zanderk.no/en/ . It is located next to Bergen Rail station. From the Airport of Bergen you can take the Bergen light Railway ("Bybanen", there is only one line and the airport is the end stop) to the second last stop before the city centre, directly next to Bergen railway station and bus station. Breakfast is included in the hotels you stay in.

Weather: Writing this 4-5 days before the even the forcase says around 15 C, cloudy and some rain. Please pack practical clothes/shoes. At this time of the year the night remains light.

If you present with powerpoint, please send your presentation file to your panel organiser latest two days before your presentation.