Prof. Intisar Rabb on Harvard Law Faculty

September 19, 2013 by  


By Sophy Bishop

Intisar Rabb, a newly named faculty member, photographed in the Law LibraryIntisar A. Rabb, a leading expert on Islamic Law and legal history, will join the faculty of Harvard Law School beginning Spring 2014, with an appointment as a tenured Professor of Law.

Rabb is currently associate professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Law at New York University School of Law, where she holds a joint appointment at the NYU Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department and the NYU School of Law. At HLS, she will be a faculty director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program.

Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said: “Intisar is a first-rate scholar; she engages across historical and present-day legal issues and materials with nimbleness and contagious curiosity. We are delighted she is joining this community and look forward to supporting her keen interest in using the web and other tools for sharing accurate information about the Middle East and Islamic legal traditions with students, scholars, journalists and people all over the world. Generations of students and colleagues at HLS, at Harvard, and beyond will benefit enormously from her expertise, her teaching, and her wonderful way of engaging others in discussion of important issues.”

In 2012, Rabb served as a visiting associate professor of law at Harvard Law School. From 2011 to 2013, she was a fellow at HLS’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where she worked with a team to develop an online database aimed at connecting legal scholars and media producers with credible, authoritative information about trends in Islamic law. In 2010, she was named a Carnegie Scholar for her research on “Islamic Law and Legal Change: The Internal Critique,” which examines criminal law reform in the Muslim world.

Said Rabb: “I am thrilled to be joining Harvard Law School: the ideal community in which to further explore and teach concepts of Islamic law, legal history, and comparative law in an interdisciplinary way. My colleagues at HLS are stellar scholars and teachers; I found the students I taught there to be consistently sharp and engaged; and the library resources—especially for the study of Islamic and Middle Eastern law—are unparalleled in any North American law school. In addition to continuing down the many avenues of intellectual engagement there, I look forward to coming back to the HLS classroom and to the library. I also look forward to building the Islamic Legal Studies Program to its full potential.”

Rabb holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies (with a focus on Islamic Law) from Princeton University. Her dissertation, which won the Princeton NES Bayard and Cleveland Dodge Memorial Thesis Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation, focused on the history and function of legal maxims in Islamic law. In addition to her Ph.D., Rabb earned a B.S. from Georgetown University in Government and Arabic in 1999, a M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton in 2005 and a J.D. from Yale Law School, in 2006.

She served as a law clerk to the Hon. Thomas L. Ambro of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, from 2006 to 2007, and subsequently worked with members of the bench and bar in the United Kingdom as a Temple Bar Scholar through the American Inns of Court. Rabb speaks Arabic and Persian and has reading proficiency in French, German, and Spanish.

Her publications include: “The Burden and Benefit of Doubt: Legal Maxims in Early Islamic Law” (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2014); “Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought,” co-edited with Michael Cook, Najam Haider, and Asma Sayeed, (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013) and “Qāḍī Justice: Courts and The Administration of Justice in Early Islamic Law and Society” (Cambridge University Press, under contract).

Currently, Rabb serves on the board of the Journal of Islamic Law and Society and as an executive Board Member on the Section on Islamic Law and as chair-elect of the Section on Comparative Law for the American Association of Law Schools. In the past, she has served as a guest editor of the Journal of Law and Religion.

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