Cancelled: York-Noor Lecture Series looks at legal orthodoxy in medieval Islam

Since the posting of this story, these lectures have been cancelled until a later date. See this update for more details.

Religious and Islamic studies Professor R. Kevin Jaques of Indiana University will deliver two talks as part of the annual York-Noor Lecture Series 2010-2011: Recent Publications on Islam and Muslim Societies.

The first lecture, “Defining the Boundaries of Legal Orthodoxy in Medieval Islam”, will take place Sunday, Oct. 3, from 3 to 5pm at the Noor Cultural Centre, 123 Wynford Dr. (Don Valley Parkway and Eglinton Avenue). The second lecture, “Al-Shafi’i as Exemplar and Rogue”, will take place on Monday, Oct. 4, at noon in the Vanier Senior Common Room at 010 Vanier College, Keele campus.

Right: R. Kevin Jaques

“Defining the Boundaries of Legal Orthodoxy in Medieval Islam” will look at how medieval historians used prosopography to define the boundaries of legal orthodoxy by outlining the qualities of scholars over the generations to establish approved chains of legal and methodological transmission.

The lecture will present two legal prosopographies Tabaqat al-fuqaha by Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi (d. 1083) and the Tabaqat al-fuqaha al-Shafi’iyah by Ibn Qadi Shuhbah (d. 1448), to examine how these historians attempted to construct the history of Islamic law, the Shafi’i school in particular, and the range of acceptable legal diversity that defined “orthodox” Islamic practice and thought.

In his second talk, “Al-Shafi’i as Exemplar and Rogue”, Jaques will look at biographies written between 900 and 1100 CE about Muhammad b. Idris al-Shafi’i (d. 204/820), the eponymous founder of the Shafi’i school of law. Scholars of various schools wrote biographies about al-Shafi’i as a means to fighting inter-school feuds.

Jaques’ paper will look at the hagiographic biographies written within the Shafi’i schools that seek to cast al-Shaf’i’i’s biography as a reflection on that of Muhammad. This will be contrasted with biographies written by Hanafi and Maliki scholars who initially portray al-Shafi’i in very negative terms but, as the school became entrenched in medieval Muslim thought, come to accept al-Shafi’i, but only as a disciple of Malik b. Anas and the Hanafi scholar Muhammad al-Shaybani.

A professor of religious studies and director of the Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies Program at Indiana University, Jaques is particularly interested in Islamic legal history, Islam in Southeast Asia and Indian Ocean communities, as well as religious authority in times of social and cultural upheaval, and methodologies in the academic study of religion.

He is author of Authority, Conflict, and the Transmission of Diversity in Medieval Islamic Law (Brill Academic Publishers, 2006), and the forthcoming Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, part of the The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Makers of Islamic Civilization Series. He is currently working on a book project that explores the nature of juridical authority during the late Mamluk period (c. 1382-1517) in Egypt and Syria.

For more information on the York-Noor Lecture Series, visit the Noor Cultural Centre website.