SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Applying shari‘a in modern times: Some reflections from 19th-century Egypt

Khaled Fahmy, Sultan Qaboos Professor of Modern Arabic Studies (University of Cambridge)

Date: 4 February 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 4 February 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar

Chair and discussant: Vanja Hamzić (SOAS) 

For the past half century, implementing shari‘a has been a rallying cry for Islamist groups throughout the Muslim world. Judging the legal systems of various Muslim-majority countries to have been imposed by colonial powers and/or Westernized legal and political elites, many Islamists have been calling for a return to what they believe was an authentic, legal system – the shari‘a. However, there is little understanding of what this shari‘a consisted of or how it was applied in Muslim countries before the Western onslaught. This paper looks at a particular historical case, that of nineteenth-century Egypt, to see how precisely shari‘a was applied in the field of criminal law, and asks if secularization is the best way to explain the process by which criminal law changed in a time of profound political and social transformation. 

Professor Khaled Fahmy is a historian and the Sultan Qaboos bin Sa'id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, with a specialty in the social and cultural history of nineteenth-century Egypt. He is the author of All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army, and the Making of Modern Egypt, Mehmed Ali: From Ottoman Governor to Ruler of Egypt, and In Quest of Justice: Islamic Law and Forensic Medicine in Modern Egypt.

Organiser: Ceyda Karamursel

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