Guest posts on Harvard’s Islamic Law Blog

The Islamic Law Blog of the Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School invited me to serve as their guest editor during November 2019. I contributed posts on teaching, research hacks, a recent conference, and uṣūl al-fiqh:

The blog is relatively new, and already has a long list of great contributors. You might want to subscribe!

Uṣūl al-Fiqh versus Hermeneutics

Detail of wall in the ornate meeting room

Many thanks to Rob Gleave and Murteza Bedir for organizing another great conference on Islamic legal theory in Istanbul, and to all the participants for rich conversations and for helpful feedback on my paper, which was:

“Uṣūl al-Fiqh versus Hermeneutics: History, Linguistics, Ideology, Phenomenology, and Postmodernism between Europe and Indonesia.” Conference on “Islamic Legal Theory: Intellectual History and Uṣūl al-Fiqh,” Istanbul University, October 15, 2019.

Here is a pdf of the pre-conference draft of the paper that was shared with participants. It is complete but lacks documentation and will require a great deal of revision before publication in the projected conference volume, so please do not cite it formally yet.

Conference participants
The conference participants
Detail of wall in the ornate meeting room
Detail of wall in the ornate meeting room
View of the Süleymaniye mosque from the meeting room
View of the Süleymaniye mosque from the meeting room

Sacrificial Listening: An Epistemology and Pedagogy for Intellectual Humility in the Humanities

This working paper is my most detailed and systematic attempt yet to articulate the notion of “sacrificial listening” that has been the guiding principle of my research and teaching. Its main points were presented to a group of colleagues in philosophy, psychology, education, and other fields at the University of Oklahoma, as part of the Virtue Forum Luncheon series of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing. Many thanks to Institute director Nancy Snow for this great chance to get some interdisciplinary input on this long-term project, and to the audience for a very helpful discussion.

“Sacrificial Listening: An Epistemology and Pedagogy for Intellectual Humility in the Humanities.” Virtue Forum Luncheon series of the Self, Virtue and Public Life Project, Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, University of Oklahoma, October 9, 2019.

Here is a pdf of the full working paper.

The “Psalms of David” as reimagined and rewritten by Muslims

Ronny Vollandt (Munich) and the research project “Biblia Arabica: The Bible in Arabic among Jews, Christians and Muslims” graciously posted on their blog a brief overview of my conclusions about the Islamic Zabur:

“The ‘Psalms of David’ as reimagined and rewritten by Muslims.” Biblia Arabica. May 14, 2019. https://biblia-arabica.com/the-psalms-of-david-as-reimagined-and-rewritten-by-muslims/

Thanks to all the Biblia Arabica team for opening up this important field, and for welcoming my own project even though it hardly counts as “Bible.”

Origins and Sources of the Islamic Psalms of David

My first visit to the British Association for Islamic Studies was a rich feast of papers, discussions, and conversations with colleagues old and new. Thanks to the BRAIS team for welcoming me into their midst!

My presentation asked what sources the 8th-century author of the Islamic Psalms might have drawn upon for his compilation, and considered several possibilities: Christian monasticism, Biblical paraphrases, the Qur’an, ḥadīth qudsī, other pseudo-scriptures, Tales of the Prophets, wisdom literature, and the literature of Islamic asceticism (zuhd). I concluded, however, that rather than looking for sources I should be looking for inspirations; and the ensuing discussion showed me that I should also be looking for the afterlife of these psalms in other literature.

“Origins and Sources of the Islamic Psalms of David.” British Association for Islamic Studies, April 15, 2019, Nottingham.

Here are the paper and the slides in pdf form.