Dear friends of the Harvard Law School Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World,


We hope this message finds you and yours staying well and healthy, and we thank you for your continued engagement with our program. We are pleased to share exciting updates from our faculty and fellows, as well as recordings of our most recent programming on campus.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to with your questions and comments. We would love to hear from you!

Highlights of Our Recent Work and Activities

Faculty Director Professor Kristen Stilt convened a workshop for country authors of the Oxford Handbook of Global Animal Law (forthcoming 2023, Anne Peters, Kristen Stilt, and Saskia Stucki, eds.). The Handbook is intended to be a comprehensive reference work that authoritatively establishes the new field of Global Animal Lawmaps it, identifies relevant legal issues, and forms a platform for further legal research. The workshop, held over three days in late fall 2022, was attended by 17 country chapters authors from around the world and was funded jointly by the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program, the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Law and International Law, and the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law & Policy.  The Handbook will include country reports from Bahrain, Iran, and Turkey, among many others, and will include a chapter on Islamic conceptions of animal law, in historical and contemporary applications.

Associate Director Salma Waheedi published an article in the Arab Law Quarterly entitled “Litigating Women’s Rights in Gulf Monarchial Systems: The Kuwait and Bahrain Constitutional Courts as Case Studies,” which examines the dynamics of litigating women’s rights in Arab Gulf monarchical systems. The article is an inquiry into these courts’ jurisprudence and the factors that inhibit or enable their exercise of autonomous judicial powers to protect women’s rights. Waheedi also wrote a chapter entitled “Attempted Reforms: Laws that Criminalize Violence Against Women in Arab Countries,” as part of Musawah’s latest Arabic-language volume, Violence Against Women in Arab Societies: Challenges and Horizons for Change in Islamic Jurisprudence and Law.

Visiting Fellow Fatima Essop authored a book chapter entitled “Problems of and Possibilities for Islamic Divorce in South Africa.” The chapter analyzes Islamic divorce practices in South Africa, highlighting challenges that South African women face in seeking to obtain a divorce in Sharia courts, and proposes solutions to address current shortcomings. This chapter is published in the newly released volume, Islamic Divorce in the Twenty-First Century: A Global Perspective,which showcases a wide range of Muslim experiences in marital disputes and in seeking Islamic divorces.

Visiting Fellow Marwa Sharafeldin co-authored a chapter with Lynn Welchman and Zahia Jouirou on “Muslim Family Laws: Trajectories of Reform,” in Musawah’s newly released book, Justice and Beauty in Muslim Marriage: Towards Egalitarian Ethics and LawsAs the MENA Region Senior Expert at Musawah, Sharafeldin managed the Research Group on Violence Against Women, which released its latest publication in Arabic entitled Violence Against Women in Arab Societies: Challenges and Horizons for Change in Islamic Jurisprudence and Law. The publication is a unique collaboration between activists and scholars in the Arab region, with chapters that cover a range of topics such as analyses of laws and legal reforms, Islamic law and jurisprudence, social practices, and the role of arts and cinema.

Visiting Fellow Ermiza Tegal published an article entitled “Final question for MMDA reforms in Sri Lanka: Is the practice of polygamy Islamic?” in which she discussed proposed reforms to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) and argued in support of a comprehensive ban on polygamy in Sri Lanka, in accordance with the Islamic legal principle of preventing harm. Tegal also co-authored an essay for the Harvard Human Rights Blog entitled “The Crisis in Sri Lanka: Human Rights in Peril,” with Niyanthini Kadirgamar.

Fall 2022 Events

Event Recording: Muslim Women Speak: The Quest for Human Rights and Gender Justice in Islam

A panel with Zainah Anwar, co-founder and former executive director of Musawah and 

Sisters in Islam; Fer Ghanaa Ansari, International Advocacy Officer at Musawah; Hyshyama Hamin, campaign manager for the Global Campaign for Equality in Family Law at Equality Now; and Marwa Sharafeldin, Visiting Fellow at the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World. 


The speakers on the panel, which was featured as part of Harvard Worldwide Week 2022, discussed their journeys as Muslim women’s rights advocates towards gender equality and justice in Muslim societies and their experiences navigating the relationship between Islamic law and human rights advocacy. The discussion explored opportunities and challenges of reforming both secular and religious-based laws, especially family laws, the ongoing groundbreaking work to further a rights-based understanding of Islamic law, and paths forward towards collective solidarity and mindful action for gender equality and justice. 

Event Recap: The Crisis in Sri Lanka, Human Rights in Peril

On October 27, we hosted a discussion with Visiting Fellow Ermiza Tegal and Niyanthini 

Kadirgamar, which explored the unfolding developments in Sri Lanka, the responses of the government and international actors, and possibilities for a justice-oriented, people-centered approach to resolving the crisis in Sri Lanka. Following the event, Tegal and Kadirgamar published an essay that recaps and summarizes key discussion points and takeaways.

Upcoming Edition of the Journal of Constitutional Law in the Middle East and North Africa

The Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World is collaborating with the Arab Association of Constitutional Law to publish the third edition of the Journal of Constitutional Law in the Middle East and North Africa (JCL-MENA), to be released in May 2023.

The journal is a venue for scholarly analysis and interdisciplinary study of constitutional law in the MENA region and is dedicated to encouraging rigorous discussion and critical analysis of constitutional, legal, and judicial developments. Click here for more information and to access the first two editions of the Journal in English and Arabic.

Visiting Fellowship Call for Applications

We are currently accepting applications for the 2023-2024 Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World Visiting Fellowships. The deadline for application is February 1, 2023.


Please click here for more information and application instructions.

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