Youcef Soufi

Research Interests

  • The Islamic Tradition
  • Islamic Law and Legal Theory (uṣūl al-fiqh)
  • Classical Legal Debate Gatherings (munāẓarāt fiqhiyya)
  • Islamic Jurisprudence of War and International Relations

Projects

My main area of interest is the culture of critical debate (munāẓara) within classical Islamic jurisprudence. I am currently working on a book project examining the historical emergence and impact of juristic debate gatherings on the Islamic legal tradition. The book explores the inextricable link between faith and critical inquiry among the juristic class. I focus on four transcripts of 11th century debates between the famed Shāfi‘ī jurist, Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī (d.1083), and opposing adversaries both within and outside of his legal school. Shīrāzī and his colleagues gathered together across schools in a devotional and ruthless act of mutual critique aiming to discover God’s law. They used the debate gathering as an opportunity to explore and test out various argumentative proofs for contentious legal cases. Neither wealth nor fame mattered in the debating arena, only rational argument was taken as a sound foundation for truth. And yet, as their discussion topics show, Islamic legal debate also depended upon and re-enforced a hierarchical power structure between jurist elites and lay-Muslims and non-Muslim minorities. These power structures limited the critical potential of classical Islam.

 

Education

PhD University of Toronto, Religious Studies (2017)
MA University of Victoria, Political Science and Cultural, Social, and Political Thought (2009)
BA University of Manitoba, History and Political Studies (2007)

Academic Appointments
2015-2016 Jackman Humanities Fellow at the University of Toronto

Courses Currently Taught

Winter 2018

RELG207 Classical Islam Sections

The history and culture, values, and achievements of Islamic societies from 700-1500; the interconnections between power, politics, gender, and the arts in Islamic societies. This course is highly recommended as a basis for all 300- and 400-level Islamic Studies courses.

Winter 2018

RELG475B Topics in Religion - TPCS IN RELIGION Sections

Consult the course registration information each year for offered topics.

Winter 2018

RELG203 Scriptures of the Near East Sections

An introduction to the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Winter 2018

RELG208 Modern Islam Sections

The history and culture, values, and socio-political movements of the Islamic world from 1500 to the modern day; the interconnections between power, politics, gender, and the arts in modern Islamic societies. This course is highly recommended as a basis for all 300- and 400-level Islamic Studies courses.

Winter 2018

ARBC101 Introduction to the Grammar and Vocabulary of Classic Arabic Sections

Winter 2018

ARBC102 Introduction to the Grammar and Vocabulary of Classic Arabic II Sections

Winter 2018

ARBC420A Supervised Study in Classical Arabic - CLASSICAL ARABIC Sections

Religious and literary Arabic texts pertaining to the early and medieval Islamic world.

Publications

“The Historiography of Uṣūl al-Fiqh,” in The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law, eds. Anver Emon and Rumee Ahmed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

“A Brief Historical Overview of the emergence of Qiyās within Islamic Jurisprudence and Some Notes on the Life and Work of Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī.” in Inferences by Parallel Reasoning In Islamic Jurisprudence: Al-Shīrāzī’s Insights into the Dialectical Constitution of Meaning and Knowledge, ed Shahid Rahman (Cham: Springer (forthcoming)).

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