Lecture delivered by Professor Brinkley Messick as the Institute of Islamic Studies Annual Lecturer.
Following a brief sketch of how Islamic law has been studied, and to what ends, Messick will argue for new methods and rationales. To do so, he will present an inside-out version of his recent book, Sharīʿa Scripts. Beginning with a survey of the book’s ethnographic foundations, personalities, and key insights. he will then concentrate on the types of readings on which the book is based–readings that were both solitary and participatory in nature and that crossed a spectrum of genres–highlighting examples of the pleasures and the understandings that are associated with the study of Islamic texts. The result amounts to an alternative, source-emphasizing account of the book’s interdisciplinary project, namely an “historical anthropology” of the Islamic sharīʿa.