CANCELLED - Contesting Muslim Legal Sovereignty in Colonial India

CANCELLED - Contesting Muslim Legal Sovereignty in Colonial India

Friday, 2 December 2022 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Investcorp Lecture Theatre, St. Antony's College
Professor Sohaira Siddiqui, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Georgetown University in Qatar
Dr Usaama al-Azami (St. Antony's College)
Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series

Abstract: Dr. Siddiqui's talk "Contesting Muslim Legal Sovereignty in Colonial India" is part of her forthcoming book which explores the juridical thought of the first Muslims lawyers and judges to serve in the High Courts in British India. As these colonial courts were established, and displaced the pre-existing Islamic legal system, the ulama had a challenge before them--should they legitimate these courts from within an Islamic legal framework, thereby granting colonial courts a degree of Islamic legal legitimacy, or should they reject the legitimacy of the courts and provide alternatives to Muslims seeking legal recourse? Unsurprisingly, the ulama were varied in their response. In exploring the legal discourses of some of the foremost ulama during this time, this talk seeks to understand how these ulama were engaged in broader debates regarding political and legal sovereignty and, indeed, the continuity of the Muslim community. 

Biography: Sohaira Siddiqui is an Associate Professor of Theology at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Her work focuses on the relationship between law, theology and political thought in classical Islam; Islamic law during British colonization; Islamic law in contemporary Muslim societies; and secularism and modernity in relation to Muslims in the West. She is the author of Law and Politics Under the 'Abbasids: An Intellectual Portrait of al-Juwayni (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and Locating the Shari'a: Legal Fluidity in Theory, History and Practice (Brill, 2019). She has also published numerous articles in Islamic Law and Society, Journal of Islamic Studies, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Middle East Law and Governance and is serving as the editor to the forthcoming, Cambridge Companion to Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press, 2024)

In 2023, her next major project is coming to fruition with the publication of her book, Contesting Colonial Power: Refashioning Islamic Law in British India (University of California Press, 2023) which focuses on the juridical thought of the first Muslim judges to serve on the High Courts in British India during the 18th and 19th centuries. The project aims to analyze the changing dynamics of the Hanafi legal school after the promulgation of Anglo-Muhammadan law and the participation of Muslims in the adjudicative process. 

Artwork The Treaty of Allahabad