The Law, Authority and Learning in Imami Shiʿite Islam (LAWALISI) project was 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, was the project’s Principal Investigator. In the end, the LAWALISI project ran for six years due to the one-year extension given as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The LAWALISI project examined 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 aimed to promote a comparative approach by which the intersections and points of contact between the different law schools could be brought into view and scrutinized.
We investigated 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 assessed later developments, from the Safavid period until the present day. The LAWALISI project has comprised of numerous postdoctoral fellows, beginning with Drs Paul Gledhill and Wissam Halawi in 2016. Drs Kumail Rajani, Raha Rafii, Amin Ehteshami and Cameron Zargar joined the project in 2019. In the final year of the project from August 2021 – August 2022, Drs Omar Anchassi and Pooya Razavian joined the team to work on the Twelver Usul Bibliography project. During its final 6 months, Drs Belal Alabbas, Hassan Al-Beloushi, Bianka Speidl and George Warner also worked with us as temporary LAWALISI fellows and finally Mr Mosfafa Movahidifar joined the Twelver Usul Bibliography team.
Over the five years of the project, LAWALISI employed 13 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers working on different aspects of Shīʿī studies, many of whom have gone on to lectureships, research positions and associate professorships.
The postdoctoral research fellows contributed to a collaborative programme of research, as well as completing their own research projects. A full list of the publications emerging from the project will be posted here in due course. The project also had regular seminars and held workshops looking at Shiʿite law in comparative perspective once every two months. Although the project has finished, please feel free to get in contact via our Contact page.