Finance in Religious Law: A Comparative Conference

imageThe legal systems of Judaism, Islam, and Catholic Christianity each regulate financial transactions in the light of a divine ethical imperative to avoid lending at interest. Yet each has also developed practical, legal means to facilitate a wide range of investment opportunities. The convergence of common ethical aspirations and practical concerns, and the divergence in historical experiences, together present a nearly unique opportunity for comparative study.

The Gruss Chair of Talmudic Civil Law, The Program on Jewish Law, and The Islamic Legal Studies Program at the Harvard Law School; and The Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University are convening a comparative conference with papers that will consider both the history and the contemporary practice of religious-legal engagement with finance. Special attention will be paid to the different institutional mechanisms for dealing with questions of law, ethics, and practical necessity. The relationship between revealed religion, legal reasoning, and ethical-moral considerations will also constitute a major theme. A further essential theme will be the question of contemporary observance of the dictates of traditional religion and the efforts of religious institutions to engage contemporary realities.

Finance in Religious Law: A Comparative Conference Judaism, Christianity, Islam

(Dec. 10-11, 2013)

Tuesday, December 10th 2013

1:00pm – 1:30pm

Opening Remarks by Prof. Noah Feldman, Bemis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Session I – “Finance & Religion: Foundations and Early History”

1:30pm – 4:30pm

Chair: Intisar Rabb, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Law, New York University School of Law and Tenured Faculty and Director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School (2014).

Presentations by:

Dr. Ibrahim Warde, Adjunct Professor, The Fletcher School of Diplomacy, Tufts University: “Finance, Moral Philosophy and Religion”

Phillip I. Ackerman-Lieberman, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Law, Religious Studies, Islamic Studies and History, Vanderbilt University: “Jewish Commercial Practice in the Medieval Islamic World: Is It Really Between Jewish and Islamic Law?”

Rowan Dorin, Ph.D. Candidate in History,Department of History, Harvard University: “Canon Law and the Challenge of Usury in the Late Middle Ages.”

4:30pm – 5:00pm Panel I Discussion Conclusion and Closing Remarks

5:00pm – 6:00pm Reception

Wednesday, December 10th 2013

Session I– “Commercial Challenges & Early Modernity”

9:00am – 12:00pm

Chair: Kristen Stilt, Harry R. Horrow Professor in International Law, Professor of History, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University, Northwestern School of Law

Presentations by:

Ephraim Kanarfogel, University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law, Yeshiva University: “The Pre-Modern History of the Heter Iska: Investing and Extending Credit in Medieval Rabbinic Literature and Thought.”

Wim Decock, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, KU Leuven and Research Group Leader, Max-Planck-Institute for Legal History, Frankfurt am Main: “The Catholic Spirit of Commercial Capitalism?”

Erol Özvar, Professor, Marmara University: “A Shared Credit World: Legal Tools and Financial Practice among Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Ottoman Society.”

Session II- “Contemporary Religion and Finance”

1:30pm – 4:30pm

Chair: Shayndi Raice, Banking Reporter, Wall Street Journal, New York

Presentations by:

Daniel Finn, Professor of Theology and Clemens Professor of Economics, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota: “Catholic Social Thought and Finance: How Faith and Economics Connect.”

Shariq Nisar, Senior Visiting Fellow, Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School and Director at Taqwaa Advisory and Shariah Investment Solutions Pvt. Ltd.: “Contemporary Islamic Finance: An Overview.”

Rabbi Ari Marburger, Rabbinic Court, Lakewood, New Jersey: “Banks, Mortgages, and Hedge Funds: Applying Jewish Law to Modern Finance.”

4:30pm – 5:00pm Panel II Discussion Conclusion, Final Remarks and Adjournment

Venue: Harvard Law School

Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center and Clinical Wing (WCC Building)

Milstein West, Room 2019

1585 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138

The Program on Jewish Law at Harvard Law School Extends Very Special Thanks to: Shannon Whalen, Conference Organizer, Menachem Butler, Special Advisor, Joseph and Margaret Koerner- Poster Design and Art History Advisors, and Isaac Corré- For his generous contribution which helped fund this conference.

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