Law, Political science

Octobre 2023 à juin 2024


Prof. Dr. Mirjam Künkler studied Political Science, African Studies, Oriental Studies, and Economics at the Universities of Leipzig, Paris, and Cape Town. 

In 2008, she earned her Ph.D. at Columbia University, NY, with a dissertation on “Democratization, Islamic Thought, and Social Movements: Coalitional Success and Failure in Iran and Indonesia” under the mentorship of Charles Tilly, Alfred Stepan, and Said Arjomand. Subsequently, Mirjam Künkler taught Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. 

She was also a guest professor at the University of Tehran and the Islamic State University of Makassar in Indonesia. She has published books with Columbia University Press, Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press, and is a PI of the Iran Data Portal. 

She is co-editor-in-chief of the Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and Politics and the Cambridge Journal of Law and Religion. She is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (Wiley), the International Journal of Islam in Asia (Brill), the Digest of Middle East Studies (Wiley), and Iranian Studies (Cambridge). She is the president-elect of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies (ASPS).

Search project

Women Interpreting Islamic Law

Although numerous historical examples attest to women serving as muftīyāt (interpreters of Islamic law), de faqīhāt (jurists of Islamic law), muḥaddithāt (transmitters of hadith), and scholars of Islam across the centuries, women are rarely accepted as authoritative interpreters of Islamic law today. 

The 20th century in particular has seen various legal and educational barriers for women who seek to acquire Islamic religious authority on par with men. Notably, the contemporary situation is often more restrictive for women than injunctions of the schools of Islamic law (madh?hib) allow for.

The book provides examples of authoritative female interpreters of Islamic law in the history of Islamic civilizations and examines why women have by and large less religious authority today than the classical sources allow for. It also highlights the important initiatives that are underway in various part of the Muslim world to counter existing restrictions. 

The past decade in particular has witnessed some consequential changes as several Muslim-majority states have established or reformed institutional and legal frameworks to allow for the training and certification of women as muftis, vice muftis, judges, or advisory judges. The book documents these efforts.