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‘Islamic Law and Theology in Context’ Conference to Be Held in Germany

An International Conference titled ‘Islamic Law and Theology in Context – The Treatise-Literature (rasāʾil) as Documentation of Socially Relevant Discussions in Pre-Modern Muslim Societies (13th – 19th Centuries)’ will be held on 25th – 27th March 2020 in Osnabrück, Germany.

In the last twenty years, research on the history of Islamic Law has shifted from the Early Period to the Middle Periods, approaching all kinds of different genres and topics. Besides fatāwā-collections and commentaries (sharḥ and ḥāshiya), the treatise-literature (rasāʾil) seem to be a predominant medium of discussing socially relevant questions. Treatises are short texts on current topics, which are not covered in the standard textbooks or were only covered in a very rudimentary and general sense. Still ignored widely in secondary literature in general, few studies have addressed topics such as tobacco and co­ffee consumption in the Ottoman Empire, the waqf system and the punishment of heretics etc.

Since this literature covers topics that discuss contemporary social practices, it provides valuable information about how scholars and intellectuals responded to those practices, hence, reflects the intersection between theory and practice.  Therefore, the following questions should stand in the middle of the studies: What topics of practical law or theology were discussed more intensely at a given time and location? What were the social and theological contexts of these discussions? Who was involved in these discussions? What was the motivation of the author? What were their arguments? What do these texts say about contextuality, ‑ exibility and pragmatism of Islamic law? What conclusions can be drawn from this data for the treatise-literature (rasāʾil)?

The conference focuses on the 13th to the 19th centuries with a main interest in the Ottoman and Mamluk Empires, and it aims to add to our understanding of the reality of Islamic theology and law in its historical and social context. Nevertheless, the investigation of treatises from other geographical areas are welcomed as well.

Organsation and Date:

This conference is organized by Dr. Hakkı Arslan, (University Osnabrück) and Dr. Mohammad Gharaibeh (University of Bonn). It will be held between the 25th and 27th March 2020 at the Institute for Islamic theology in Osnabrück. Expenses for travel and accommodation will be covered. The papers are foreseen to be published in a special issue of the Journal Hikma – Journal für Islamic theology and Religious Education in April 2021, after they underwent a peer-review process.

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