Program

Library of Congress Fellowships in International Studies , Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships

Project

Death, ritual, and society in the early Islamic world

Project

Forbidden Goods: Cross-Cultural Trade in Islamic Law

Department

History

Death, ritual, and society in the early Islamic world

Forbidden Goods: Cross-Cultural Trade in Islamic Law

This project examines historically Muslim legal perceptions of non-Muslim commodities, from the rise of Islam to the present day. Many experts on Islamic law earned their livelihood as merchants and thus appreciated the benefits of cross-cultural trade. Yet they worried that through such trade they would expose their bodies and communities to impurity, and so proposed ideological restrictions to regulate this commerce. This resulted in a productive tension in Islamic legal thought between an economic interest in porous communal boundaries and a religious interest in social exclusivity. As Muslim jurists reflected on non-Muslims and their worldly goods, they also sought, in different ways and in different historical circumstances, to define an Islamic social identity.