Harvard University Launches Fellowships in Islamic Law to Influence U.S. Policy

Harvard Law School has announced the launch of a series of paid fellowships for research on issues of Islamic law during the 2017-2018 academic year, aimed at influencing public discourse and U.S. policy on Sharia.

According to a recent email sent by the director of Harvard’s Islamic Legal Studies Program, Intisar Rabb, the launch of the new program comes “just in time” for the beginning of the Trump administration and has the goal of “building a community of Islamic law scholars in the academy” as well as informing “policy and media discourse about Islamic law.”

Fellows will receive a stipend of up to $5,000 per month and are expected to promote the development of policy papers “at the intersection of Islamic law and relevant issues of U.S. policy.” These policy papers will include short commentary on recent cases or other Islamic law sources, longer policy briefs, or op-eds, according to the law school website.

Harvard’s SHARIAsource Portal has amassed a digital library of Sharia case law from around the world, with 25 editors from 21 different institutions (6 outside of the U.S.) and 1711 primary sources from 18 different countries. The data includes 902 Sharia court cases, 541 legislative acts and 251 Fatwās.

The new Sharia Research Fellowship Program will provide opportunities for scholars to conduct research on “policy-related aspects of Islamic law,” and Harvard will provide them with a workspace and Harvard Law Library privileges, along with their stipend. The school is encouraging applications especially from “women, minorities, and citizens of all countries.”

Harvard’s Islamic Legal Studies Program is inviting visiting fellows to undertake research, writing, and scholarly engagement on Islamic law that furthers the Program’s mission.

Among particular areas of interest, the Program is promoting research in migration and refugee studies, environmental law and climate change, minority rights, animal welfare and human rights.

In his email to a “select group of users,” the director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program shares the “exciting news” of the launch, while inviting them to share the news widely.

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