This article explores debates about the role of Islamic law (sharīʿa) in the early development of the native courts in Egypt, established in 1883. Current literature focuses on the impact of European influence, arguing that the native courts and the codes they implemented broke away from a past dominated by Islamic law, sidelined pre-modern juristic (fiqh) understandings, and reflected an importation of European norms in service of a growing modern state. Using periodicals published within the first ten years following the establishment of the native courts, this article argues that, for both supporters and detractors, the question was not whether the sharīʿa was being implemented but how it should be understood and utilized. Ideas informed by external influences, such as the rule of law and the creation of an independent judiciary, were significant and helped to shape the development and operation of the native courts. However, these ideas were viewed by observers through a broader conceptualization of the sharīʿa that included the work of the political authority to achieve a central goal: to nationalize the sharīʿa and establish justice in a rapidly changing social and legal environment.
The Journal of Islamic Law is a peer-reviewed online Journal—published together with a regular Forum—that features new scholarship in Islamic legal studies. Focusing on historical, comparative, and law and society approaches to Islamic law, we also have a keen interest in featuring data science tools and primary sources that inform the scholarly analysis. The SHARIAsource Portal houses both the tools and the sources, and it provides an opportunity for scholars to curate an online companion to their scholarly contributions to the Journal or the Forum. The Journal welcomes long-form articles, essays, book reviews, and notes on cases and other new developments in the field. The more dynamic and slightly less formal Forum provides space for timely scholarly engagement and debate: invited roundtables on thematic issues of the day, essays on underexplored manuscripts or recent articles, and presentations of data science tools developed for or applied to the field. The Journal is on an annual schedule, and its related Forum will feature new content throughout the year. Our editorial board and peer reviewers select scholarship on the basis of excellence and novel contributions to the field. For submission details, see the submission guidelines.
The integration of Islamic law into the Habsburg administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the 1878 occupation marked a significant shift in the existing Islamic legal system. This paper examines the impacts of the legal reforms implemented by the Austro-Hungarian government, focusing on the agency of local qāḍīs and plaintiffs in the process. The Habsburg bureaucracy reduced the application of Islamic law to the private sphere of family and marriage and established a two-tier court system, including a Supreme Sharia Court in Sarajevo, under state control. The analysis suggests that the integration of the Sharia courts into the Habsburg administration began a process of translation of legal norms, knowledge, values, and practices, resulting in a unique blend of Ottoman Islamic legal practices and Habsburg legal structures and values. The paper argues that this created new opportunities for legal claim-making by local plaintiffs.
This special issue explores the interactions between Islamic law and other legal traditions during the modern period, particularly in the contexts of colonialism, imperialism, and centralized bureaucratic states from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. The three essays in the issue contribute to the ongoing scholarly debates that present contrasting views on the fate of sharīʿa during this period. Between the two sides of this debate, there is a space ripe for exploring the fitness and movement of Islamic law in the contested period between tradition and modernity.
This paper examines the legal authority of Fathullah Huseyn ughli, a prominent jurist (ākhūnd) of the Volga-Ural region between the 1820s and his death in 1843. The analysis focuses on the fatwās he issued and legal cases he resolved regarding women’s divorce. Huseyn ughli’s fatwās reveal several significant points. Firstly, despite increased regulation of Muslim marriage and divorce by the Russian Empire during this period, Huseyn ughli maintained his legal authority and made independent legal decisions with the authorization of the Orenburg Assembly. Secondly, his fatwās highlight his support for women who were suffering and his efforts to find solutions for each unique case with the assistance of local Muslim communities. He utilized his legal authority to identify loopholes and deliver rulings that diverged from mainstream Ḥanafī opinions, particularly regarding divorce based on non-maintenance. However, his flexibility was limited after 1841–42, when Muftī Suleymanov intervened, establishing the mainstream Ḥanafī position that prohibited divorce in such cases and enforcing it as a rule for all Volga-Ural ʿulamāʾ.