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Welcome to the LAWALISI project website.  Here you will be able to find out about the project’s aims and objectives, our activities and our research.

Of all the Muslim legal traditions, the Shi’ite school remains the least understood in the academic literature.  The 5-year LAWALISI project, funded by the European Research Council, examines the emergence, development and operation of the Shiite legal system.  We focus on how Shiite (Shīʿī) legal thinkers conceived of the divine law; and how legal practitioners, in the past and in the contemporary period, see the law as operating. 

Shiite Islam has a number of branches; today the most numerous is the Imāmī (or Twelver) branch, and our studies will concentrate on this branch.  We will, though, be comparing this with the other traditions of Islamic legal thought, Shīʿī or Sunni.  In many ways, the Shiite legal system is not so different from the other, larger schools; but it has not only distinctive legal doctrines, but also a methodology of legal derivation which sets it apart.

During the project we are working chronologically, beginning with the earliest, and studying the later periods, including the contemporary period, in the last project phase.

Please do get in touch if you have something to add to our discussions, and want to be added to our mailing list – you can do this via the Contact page.  We always welcome feedback on our work.

Best wishes

Rob Gleave

Director of the LAWALISI project