Islamic Studies Today 1991
Islamic Legal Studies Program Founded at Harvard Law School
With the aim of being a truly global school of law, Harvard’s was the first law school in the United States to begin offering lectures and courses on Islamic law in the 1940s and 1950s. At the invitation of Harvard Law School (HLS) Dean Erwin Griswold, Joseph Schacht, the towering figure in the study of Islamic law of the 20th century, gave the first major lecture on Islamic law at an American law school at HLS in 1947. The late comparative law professor, Arthur von Mehren, also invited several visiting professors to teach single courses on Islamic law at HLS throughout the 1950s. The Islamic Legal Studies Program (ILSP) was founded in 1991 under the directorship of Frank Vogel, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Adjunct Professor of Islamic Legal Studies, who led the program until 2006. Among ILSP’s initiatives was the Harvard Islamic Investment Project, undertaken in collaboration with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Harvard Business School, that was dedicated to research on Islamic banking and investment. In 2014, Professor Intisar Rabb became the first tenured faculty member to be named director of ILSP after a period of the program being on hiatus and not having a permanent director, and Professor Kristen Stilt joined as ILSP’s co-director later that year.