islawmix: content and context for Islamic law in the news
Intisar Rabb, Berkman Center Fellow / Boston College Law School & Umbreen Bhatti, islawmix Co-Founder
Tuesday, October 4, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
RSVP required for those attending in person via the form below
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.
Recent years have seen an uptick in coverage of Islamic law (sharīʿa) in American news media, policy, and academic circles—typically producing more questions than answers. What are the rules that dictate how Muslims in America conduct themselves? How do or should our legal institutions respond? When reporting on issues involving Muslims, how can journalists or academics distinguish individual preference or culture from Islamic law? What available, authoritative resources can best inform interested readers, from the casual to the scholarly? In short, Islamic law now seems to matter for issues of American law and policy; and it has long been a subject ripe for comparative law. But there is no reliable source of information on just what Islamic law is. Depending on the source, definitions of it can be vague, confusing, and even contradictory.
islawmix aims to fill the information gap in this important area. In this talk, we will walk through “why islawmix” and explore how islawmix aims to accomplish the rather ambitious task of providing accessible resources for parsing such complex information and developing resources for the aggregation and contextualization of significant trends in Islamic law.
Intisar A. Rabb is on the law faculty at Boston College Law
School—where she teaches comparative Islamic law and legal history,
advanced constitutional law, and criminal law—and is a faculty
affiliate in research at Harvard Law School in the Islamic Legal
Studies Program. As a Berkman Fellow, she is working with a team to
develop islawmix, a project aimed at connecting news readers, media
producers, and legal scholars with credible, authoritative information
about trends in Islamic law.
Her research in comparative law and legal history combines an assessment of public values with analyses of methods of legal interpretation in different systems of law. Her articles include studies of legal maxims and interpretive methods in Islamic law, Islamic constitutionalism and the role of the jurists in Muslim-majority countries, and the early history of the Qur'anic text. She is also a 2010 Carnegie Scholar, awarded a grant for her research on "Islamic Law and Legal Change: The Internal Critique," which examines criminal law reform in the Muslim world.
Rabb received a BA with honors from Georgetown University, a JD from Yale Law School, an MA and a PhD from Princeton University, where her dissertation on Islamic law won the Princeton NES Bayard and Cleveland Dodge Memorial Thesis Prize for Best PhD Dissertation. She served as a law clerk to the Hon. Thomas L. Ambro of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and subsequently worked with members of the bench and bar in the U.K. as a Temple Bar Scholar through the American Inns of Court. Rabb has traveled for research to Egypt, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere. She speaks Arabic and Persian and has reading proficiency in French, German, and Spanish.
Umbreen Bhatti is a co-founder of islawmix and a lawyer with experience in civil rights and constitutional law. Ms. Bhatti is a Staff Attorney in the Civil Rights Litigation Program at the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, CA. Prior to joining DRLC, Ms. Bhatti practiced at the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, where she engaged in litigation and non-litigation advocacy on a broad range of civil liberties issues, including free speech, religious liberty, racial justice, prisoners' rights, and police misconduct. To support her work, Ms. Bhatti received the Roxana C. Arsht Fellowship from the Delaware State Bar Association. Ms. Bhatti has also been an associate in the Washington, DC office of Latham & Watkins, LLP, an adjunct faculty member at Widener University School of Law, and the co-director of the Drexel Social Theory Institute. Ms. Bhatti is a graduate of Barnard College and the University of Michigan Law School.