This past week, I had the opportunity to co-teach a class on research in Islamic influenced jurisdictions as a part of our Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Advanced Research class. This section is traditionally taught by our Associate Director Darla Jackson but this semester she gave me the opportunity to teach it with her, and I was excited to take on this subject. I am not exaggerating when I say that this has been the most interesting class prep that I have done. This is an important topic for anyone interested practicing in International law, and Islamic traditions and law are becoming more prominent in western jurisdictions as well. The research process can be daunting, but hopefully we provided students with a solid foundation for getting started.
I used a number of resources to help prepare for this session. I had the added advantage of access to our Associate Director’s course materials from the previous year and relied heavily on those. The class was a methods class, so the focus was more on the resources for researching in Islamic influenced jurisdictions rather than Sharia itself, but a basic understanding of Sharia is necessary. I highly recommend the following items for anyone contemplating teaching a research course on this topic. They provide a clear and concise overview of Islamic law and jurisprudence:
1) Understanding Islamic Law : From Classical to Contemporary – by Hisham M. Ramadan. 2006
2) Understanding Islamic Law (Sharīʻa) by Raj Bhala. 2011
3) A discussion of Islamic jurisprudence and legal tradition and implications in the United Kingdom with Shaheen Sardar Ali from Warwick Law School available at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/podcasts/media/sharia.mp3 and from ITunes University
After developing a basic understanding of Islamic law, I recommend consulting the following research guides to develop an understanding of the sources:
1) Finding the Law: Islamic Law Andrew Grossman (2002).
2) Islamic Law Research Guide Aslihan Bulut, Columbia University, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library (last modified Apr. 6, 2011).
3) Islamic Law Resources Jonathan Franklin, University of Washington, Gallagher Law Library, [Updated by Carissa Vogel (2007) and Cheryl Nyberg (2012)]
4) Researching Islamic Influenced Jurisdictions, Darla Jackson, Oklahoma City University Law Library (last modified March 12, 2012)
If you are interested in this topic or considering creating a research course, these sources will get you started. I also recommend finding others with expertise and seeking their guidance. This is a complex topic, and while the sources I mentioned are very good, the unfamiliar vocabulary and structures can be overwhelming. I need to thank Darla Jackson, Associate Director Oklahoma City University Law Library and Huma T. Yasin, LLM Candidate, Southern Methodist University School of Law for their assistance.
If you have additional sources to recommend please note them in the comments.