The Department of Islamic Legal Studies
The Department of Islamic Legal Studies aims to explore the history and impact of the Muslim legal discourse. It examines the influential role of Sharia and jurists within society and politics, while delving into the complex dynamics between the Muslim world and broader societies, particularly in light of concepts such as ‘ijtihād‘ and ‘taqlīd’. As part of its research acitivities, the deparment hosts an annual international two-day workshop, research seminars, book talks by renowned academics and authors, visiting research fellows, and also produces translations of prominent works within the field of Islamic legal studies.
Head of Department:
Hashim Bata, Ph.D. (2012), University of Warwick, is Lecturer in Islamic Legal Studies at Al-Mahdi Institute and Associate Lecturer at University of Birmingham. He has published several articles in the fields Uṣūl al-fiqh and Fiqh. Dr Hashim Bata completed his seminary education at Al-Mahdi Institute in 2008 whilst simultaneously completing a BA (Hons) in Islamic Studies at The Islamic College and Middlesex University. Following an MA in Islam in Contemporary Societies at the University of Warwick, he completed a PhD in Law in 2013, also at the University of Warwick. His PhD involved a detailed examination of Shiʿi legal epistemology with a specific focus on the pivotal role of the authority of certainty (ḥujjiyyat al-qaṭʿ) in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). His research interests include Islamic legal theory, the history and development of Shiʿism, Islamic theology, and mysticism. His most recent publication is Exploring the Mind of God: An Introduction to Shiʿite Legal Epistemology.
The Contemporary Fiqhi Issues Workshop Series
The annual Contemporary Fiqhi Issues Workshops aim to tackle pressing jurisprudential problems by bringing together scholars from both traditional seminarian and academic backgrounds to develop and disseminate cutting edge ideas on jurisprudence and the underlying legal theory. These ongoing discussions help to bridge the gap between the historical jurisprudential discourse and the needs of Muslims in the modern world. Some of the workshops held in previous years include:
Research Seminars welcome academics and dedicated researchers specialising in Islamic Legal Studies to present their latest research findings. These seminars serve as a confluence of expertise and innovative perspectives, designed to benefit students, scholars, and individuals who are passionate about staying abreast of the latest advancements within this field. Some of the most recent seminars held include:
Book Talks feature renowned academics and authors from the field of Islamic Legal Studies to deliver insightful reviews and discussions of their most prominent works, to enrich the global community of researchers, scholars, and individuals with an interest in this specialist field. Some of the most recent book talks held include:
The Department of Islamic Legal Studies has produced the following publications as a culmination of its annual research workshops, as well as through its independent research projects:
To encourage the development and dissemination of ideas, AMI invites visiting research fellows for 1-3 months to actively participate in the institute’s research activities such as workshops, seminars, book talks and contribute towards teaching/mentoring of students on the Hawza Programme. The visiting fellows hosted by the department include:
Ayatollah Professor Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad
Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad is a member of The Academy of Sciences of Iran and a professor in the Faculty of Law at Shahid Beheshti University. He received his traditional Islamic education in Qom and consequently, received the status of Ijtihad (Ayatollah) in 1970. He holds a doctoral degree in Law from the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. He has also served as the Chairman of the Commission of Compiling Judicial Acts, and as a judge in Iran’s Ministry of Justice. Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad has published numerous books, articles, and papers in Farsi, English and Arabic dealing with various practical and theoretical issues such as Islamic jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, inter-religious dialogue, human rights, laws of armed conflict, and the environment. During his stay at AMI, he presented his research at the annual contemporary Fiqhi Issues workshop and contributed to meetings held for the International Centre for Collective Ijtihad (ICCI).
Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina
Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina is a Professor and International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) Chair in Islamic Studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. His research interests include Classical Islam, Contemporary Islam, Islam in conjunction with Democracy and Human Rights, Islamic Bioethics, and Muslim Theology. In addition to his work at the university, Professor Sachedina has been also been a consultant to the US Department of Defense regarding Middle Eastern affairs. During his stay at AMI as a Visiting Fellow in January 2015, Professor Sachedina participated in a panel discussion with Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain on “Euthanasia and end of life decisions” in which he spoke about the Ethical and Legal dimensions regarding end of life decisions. Aside from this, he also delivered lectures and discussion circles with advanced level students on the Hawza programme. His invaluable contributions enriched the academic environment, fostering a space for intellectual learning and exploration.
Dr Jafar Morvarid
Dr Jaafar Morvarid is an assistant professor of philosophy and Islamic theology at Ferdowsi University in Iran. He has delivered several lectures on “Interreligious Dialogue: Requirements and Obstacles,” “The Third Interreligious Dialogue between Shi’a Islam and Orthodox Christianity,” and “Interfaith Dialogue between Benedict Christianity and Shi’a” in various universities and communities. During his stay at AMI, Dr Morvarid presented his research on the “Theology of Shi‘ite Ziyārah: the Case for a Norm-Sensitive Approach to Religion” and taught classical texts in fiqh and its principles to students of the Hawza Programme. He also lectured with Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain and Dr Ali-reza Bhojani on the ‘Hermeneutic Elements in the Methodology of Shii Ijtihad: Agreement with the Spirit of the Book, and Derivation of Justice as the Purpose of Sharia’
Beyond its research activities, the Department of Islamic Legal Studies is also affiliated with grass-roots research centres developed to produce resources specifically tailored to meet the needs of Muslim communities. These resources go beyond traditional academic materials, aiming to provide practical guidance, relevant insights, and a comprehensive understanding of Islam that resonates with the everyday lives of Muslims. The research centres affiliated with the department include:
The International Centre for Collective Ijtihād (ICCI) continues to bring together Shi’ite scholars who specialise in Ijtihad with experts from different fields to address contemporary and challenging issues that affect Muslim communities worldwide.
The Centre for Islamic Decrees and Doctrines serves as a dynamic platform for scholarly collaboration, fostering dialogue and consensus-building among diverse Muslim perspectives. By promoting unity and cooperation among Muslim scholars, it seeks to provide a comprehensive and inclusive approach to address contemporary issues and challenges faced by Western Muslims.
Below are the latest news and developments related to the Department of Islamic Legal Studies:
The Department of Islamic Legal Studies hosts its 11th annual workshop exploring ‘Islamic Perspectives on the Beginning of Human Life: Jurisprudential, Theological and Social Implications.’