MLTalks Series at MIT: Intisar Rabb and Manal Omar in Conversation with Ethan ZuckermanPosted on October 19, 2016
Wed, Oct 19 | 1.00-2.00pm Ethan Zuckerman, MIT; Intisar Rabb, Harvard Law School; Manal Omar, USIP. Presented at the MIT Media Lab.
Ethan Zuckerman framed the conversation with HLS Professor and SHARIAsource Editor-in-Chief Intisar Rabb and USIP VP for the Middle East Manal Omar discussion within a larger approach of the Media Lab’s aim to engage in solution-making discussions from a techno-social perspective. Last week’s discussion tackled pressing questions of Islamic law as it intersects with American society and politics, civil rights, and US-based foreign policy for Muslim-majority countries. Omar provided insights on how humanitarian aid and development activities benefit from implementing strategies that incorporate religious literacy and the moral authority of religious leaders who appeal to sharīʿa as a working knowledge set. Rabb discussed the link between sharīʿa and civil rights in the American context, as the legacy of Muhammad Ali most powerfully demonstrates. Waves of African-Americans became Muslim out of impetus to fight for civil rights, seeing Islam as an equalizing force and sharīʿa as a call to fight for justice. For her, that legacy represented just one instance of a larger trend within a decidedly American experience of sharīʿa, one that she referred to in shorthand as “civil rights sharīʿa.” When asked about the role of sharīʿa in educational and policy contexts, Rabb provided a framework for approaching discussions of Islamic law both online and offline — in ways that track the major inspiration and mission of SHARIAsource in its design to provide content and context on Islamic law. Namely, she stressed the need to consider a large number of source materials, cultural contexts, and political realities when approaching any analysis of the meaning and application of Islamic law.