Welcome to the Understanding Shari’a project – This two year project addresses how Muslim legal scholars have used the idea of a perfect past to try and change the imperfect present.  Islamic legal thought has always stressed the importance of previous example – legal scholars often refer to the “example of the Prophet” or “established tradition or custom” to justify a rule. This project focuses on these uses of the past, and tries to show how they are changing and how the past is being used to support legal change and reform in contemporary Muslim discourse.

Funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) under their USES OF THE PAST programme, the project team includes scholars in the Universities of Exeter, Leiden, Göttingen and Bergen and examines the uses of the past in the areas of violence, custom, gender and the state.

Details of all our activities, including workshops, conferences and publications, can be found here – and please do get in touch if you have any comments or would like to join our mailing list.

Robert Gleave, University of Exeter – Project Lead

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 649307

Latest News & Events


Jan 18

Uses of the Past in Islamic Legal Thought and Practice Summer School 8th -14th July 2018 University of Exeter, UK

Call for Applications We are inviting advanced doctoral students and early career researchers in the area of Islamic Legal Studies,...
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Jan 18

Call for Papers: Maslaha, Siyasa and Good Governance: Shari’a and Society Workshop 19th-20th April 2018

On the 19th - 20th April 2018, the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Bergen will host the workshop...
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Jan 18

Islamic Law and Sexuality Conference 9th – 11th January 2018, University of Exeter

This two day workshop aims to investigate questions of Islamic law and sexuality, broadly conceived, including but not limited to...
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Nov 17

Governance and Violence in Islamic Law Workshop: 24th November 2017

This one-day workshop is held under the auspices of the USPPIP project (Understanding Sharia: Past Perfect, Imperfect Present) and will...
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Oct 17

Invitation: Opening Lecture of the Conference “Gender and Sharīʿah in Muslim Legal Theory and Practice”. Göttingen University, 12th October 2017

Prof. Dr. Irene Schneider, Göttingen University - Seminar für Arabistik/Islamwissenschaft, invites you to the Opening Lecture of the Conference “Gender...
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Sep 17

Nordic Seminar on Islamic Legal Studies, University of Bergen, 19th – 20th October 2017

Islamic law can be understood as both a theoretical and ethical system of organising human society and as a practical...
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Jun 17

Islamic Law and Sex/uality Workshop 22nd June 2017

The University of Exeter hosted a one day workshop exploring representations of the past by modern Muslims in a range...
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Mar 17

Customs, Culture, Shari’a and National Law

The first USPPIP Workshop took place on 24-25 February 2017 in Rabat, Morocco. The workshop entitled “Customs, Culture, Shari’a and...
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Jan 17

Meeting in Leiden December 2016

The project team met in Leiden on the 12th of December 2016 to discuss their research, potential publication collaboration and...
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Dec 16

Ocean of Law II: Islamic Legal Crossings in the Indian Ocean World

On the 12 - 14th December 2016 several members of the USPPIP project attended a conference at Leiden University entitled:...
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Nov 16

Workshop on the Imamate traditions in South Arabia

A workshop was held at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Bergen on 22 November 2016, with the topic...
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