The Law, Authority and Learning in Imami Shiʿite Islam (LAWALISI) project is made possible by a five-year Advanced Award from the European Research Council. Robert Gleave, Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter, UK, is the project’s Principal Investigator.

The LAWALISI project aims to examine the Shiʿite legal system in the context of legal thought in Islam more broadly. Since scholarship to date has so often treated Shiʿite law as essentially different from that of the other (so-called mainstream, Sunni) schools, scholars have been reluctant to include it in their accounts of Islamic law. This is changing though and this project aims to promote a comparative approach by which the intersections and points of contact between the different law schools can be brought into view and scrutinized.

We are investigating how Shiʿite law has contributed to wider Islamic legal developments over time. In the first phase of the project (2016-2019), we studied the early development of Shiʿite law and its elaboration up until the rise of the Safavid dynasty in Iran in the late 15thcentury. The second phase of the project will assess later developments, from the Safavid period until the present day. There will be two sets of two postdoctoral research fellows, the first of which were Drs Paul Gledhill and Wissam Halawi. The second set are Drs  Kumail Rajani, Raha Rafii, Amin Ehteshami and Cameron Zargar.

The postdoctoral research fellows will contribute to a collaborative programme of research, as well as completing their own research projects. The project also has regular seminars and holds workshops looking at Shiʿite law in comparative perspective once every two months. Comments and contributions are always welcome through our Contact page.