The Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World (PLS) is a research program at Harvard Law School with a mission to support rigorous and cutting-edge scholarship that addresses the complex relationships between law and society in Muslim majority and minority contexts around the world. Recognizing the complex legal, historical, socioeconomic, and political dimensions that characterize Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority contexts, we promote contextualized approaches to the study of law. We use the term “Muslim world” to indicate our interests in the many diverse contexts in which Islamic law plays a role in the legal system, whether formally or informally.
The Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World offers Visiting Fellowships for scholars and practitioners in the field of law and society and supports student research through travel grants and mentorship. It strives to foster relationships among scholars, practitioners, and research centers across different disciplines and to engage Harvard Law School students and the wider community in current developments and debates through organizing events, lectures, and workshops on campus.
PLS faculty and fellows share a common interest in the place of law in political, economic, social and cultural life and their scholarship covers a diverse range of thematic areas that include minority rights, gender justice, migration, children’s rights, animal welfare, human rights, criminal law, and family law reform.
The Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World was formerly part of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School (ILSP). ILSP was founded in 1991 by Founding Director Professor Frank E. Vogel as an expression of HLS’s growing interests in Islamic law. In 2014, Professors Kristen Stilt and Intisar Rabb became Co-Directors of the Program. In 2016, the Directors decided to focus on two areas of interest: Law and Social Change and ShariaSource. ILSP: Law and Social Change has now become the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, with Professor Stilt as Faculty Director.