The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded $400,000 over two years for the development of SHARIAsource, a project designed to be an online portal of resources and analysis on Islamic law and directed by Harvard Law School Professor Intisar A. Rabb. SHARIAsource is a joint project of Harvard Law School’s Islamic Legal Studies Program and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and it brings together the substantive and technical expertise of both communities. It is also a collaborative project. It is built on a model of collaboration with the Harvard Law School Library, other educational institutions, and scholars of Islamic law around the world to build a clearinghouse that collects the research and highlights the expertise and scholarship of each. SHARIAsource was founded by Professor Rabb, who will continue to lead as Editor-in-Chief.
“Professor Rabb’s vision, energy and talent are the driving force behind this vital effort to share primary sources of Islamic law and expert commentary from around the world,” said Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School. “SHARIAsource is an exciting flagship project for ILSP and this superb support ensures its effective development.”
On receiving news of the grant, Professor Rabb said, “We are thrilled with the opportunities that this grant presents to facilitate taking SHARIAsource to the next level. Its aim is to provide a comprehensive database of primary sources on Islamic law and informed analysis about them, both as an educational tool and a public service. We have already made significant strides in laying the foundations, and with support from Luce and the scholars in the growing collaborative network, we look forward to making many more strides in building this resource together.”
“This well-deserved award affirms and expands the illuminating work that Professor Rabb does to shed light on Islamic law, giving us all a deeper understanding of sharia,” said Dean Lizabeth Cohen of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, where Professor Rabb is the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Radcliffe Professor and where Professor Rabb will be a fellow in the 2015-16 year with a focus on cases and controversies in early Islamic courts.
The Luce Foundation Grant comes under the auspices of its Initiative in Religion and International Affairs, headed by Dr. Toby Alice Volkman. The grant will enable the development of policy papers and analysis on Islamic law, as well as collection of the primary sources related to them, in order to facilitate the academic and public conversation on matters of Islamic law that intersect with questions of public policy.
“We’re excited to be partnering with ILSP on this important project and are grateful for the generous support of the Luce Foundation,” said Berkman Center Executive Director Urs Gasser. “The Berkman Center is committed to facilitating public discourse in its many forms, and we look forward to participating in the development of this unique resource.”
SHARIAsource is a new initiative of Harvard Law School’s Islamic Legal Studies Program and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society that will provide an online portal of resources and analysis on Islamic law, in cooperation with scholars of Islamic law and policy in the United States and around the world.
SHARIAsource aims to be the go-to site for researchers, journalists, and policymakers, as well as generally interested readers seeking to grasp the basics and the complexities of Islamic law—a frequently recurring topic in news and policy circles. The portal will accomplish this goal by collecting primary sources (court cases, legislation, and fatwas) about Islamic law, and offering scholarly analysis and policy papers about them. The analysis will come from recognized experts in Islamic law and related fields in the United States and abroad. All sources will be made available in their original language, with summaries in English. SHARIAsource will also draw on the century-old collection of resources at Harvard Law School Library, and offer the added value of curation, organization, and dissemination of material through a platform that links the collation of Islamic law sources to a vehicle designed to share them and provide room for debate about them with a wider audience. One might think of SHARIAsource as a combination of Westlaw and SCOTUSblog for Islamic law.
For more information, see the profile of SHARIAsource in the current online edition of the Harvard Magazine (July-August 2015).