Call for Papers: “The Regulation of Purity (Ṭahāra) and Impurity (Najāsāt) in Islam: Practical, Socio-Ethical and Theological Implications”

The 8th Annual Contemporary Fiqhī Issues Workshop, at the Al-Mahdi Institute, seeks to provide a forum for considering the regulations of im/purity (ṭahāra and najāsā) in Islam, in light of their wide-reaching practical, socio-ethical and theological implications.

The practical importance of regulations pertaining to purity (ṭahāra) and impurity (najāsā) in Islam are testified to, not only by the typical treatment of purity as the opening chapter within works of juristic rulings, but also by their immense relevance to the daily lives of Muslims. Jurisprudential discussion of impurities (najāsāt) – be they regarding essentially impure substances (najis al-ʿain) or the different states of impurity – likewise are far from being merely theoretical. Such rulings inform the nature of Muslim communal life, social interactions with non-Muslims and are relevant to the financial regulation of permissible and impermissible trade and profit.

Many of these rulings are female-specific or female-centred, yet analysis of the gendered nature of these rulings, and their implications, is seriously underdeveloped. Furthermore, questioning the nature of regulations on im/purity – such as whether they are purely devotional (mawlawī) or simply instrumental (irshādī) – leads to further questioning the role of empirical knowledge and reason in understanding, and seeking to live in accordance with, divine intent.  

The workshop invites paper proposals directly engaging with questions related to the regulation of im/purity within Islam. Paper proposal in the following areas are particularly welcome;

  • Historical studies regarding rulings of im/purity, their textual origins, social contexts and processes of codification into Islamic jurisprudence.
  • Critical analysis of textual and theological foundations used to derive, or assumed as a result of, rulings about im/purity.
  • (Re)assessing potential developments in jurisprudential and theological approaches, affecting the treatment of im/puritydiscourses and their practical ramifications.
  • Empirical research analysing the practical and social benefits and challenges of conforming with prevalent jurisprudential standpoints on im/purity, including female-specific experiences.

The inclusive model of the workshop is pleased to host presenters from diverse traditional seminary and academic backgrounds, alongside relevant practitioners, from a range of disciplines. As has become an effective format in our previous annual workshops, fiqhī debate will be positioned alongside contributions from broader theological, historical and anthropological approaches – thereby enriching a multidisciplinary understanding of contemporary outlooks dealing with the regulation of purity in Islam.

Proposals for a single presenter should include the following:

  • Contact information, and a brief bio of presenter
  • Tentative title
  • Abstract(s) (400-word limit)

The deadline for submission of proposals is Monday 30th March 2020. Successful applicants will be notified by 6th April 2020.

Accepted applicants from within the E.U. will be supported for their travel and hospitality during the workshop, with a further limited number of travel bursaries available for those applying from outside the E.U.

Proposals and queries should be sent by e-mail to: Muhammed Reza Tajri [email protected]