Professor Kristen Stilt shows that Islamic law does recognize that animals have interests, but this recognition is not uniform for all animals and in all contexts.
This talk focuses on the question, “What are Islamic conceptions of animal rights?” It will show that Islamic law does recognize that animals have interests, but this recognition is not uniform for all animals and in all contexts. In some cases, the interest looks something like a right, while in others, the interest is one of welfare. Contemporary advocates can draw upon the Islamic legal tradition to advance the cause of animal rights, but in doing so, will need use creative methodologies to prompt the re-thinking of entrenched positions.
Kristen Stilt is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She also serves as Faculty Director of the Animal Law & Policy Program, Director of the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, and is a Deputy Dean. Stilt was named a Carnegie Scholar for her work on Constitutional Islam, and in 2013 she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. She has also received awards from Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays. She received a JD from The University of Texas School of Law, where she was an associate editor of the Texas Law Review and co-editor-in-chief of the Texas Journal of Women in the Law. She also has a PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. Her research focuses on animal law, and in particular the intersection of animal law and religious law; Islamic law and society; and comparative constitutional law. Publications include Islamic Law in Action (Oxford University Press, 2011); “Contextualizing Constitutional Islam: The Malaysian Experience,” International Journal of Constitutional Law (2015); “Constitutional Innovation and Animal Protection in Egypt,” Law & Social Inquiry (2017); “Law,” in Critical Terms for Animal Studies, ed. Lori Gruen (University of Chicago Press, 2018); “The Ambitions of Muslim Family Law Reform,” Harvard Journal of Law & Gender (2018), with Salma Waheedi and Swathi Ghandhavadi Griffin; “Animals,” in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press, 2017), with Jessica Eisen; and “Animals,” in The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law, eds. Anver Emon and Rumee Ahmed (Oxford University Press, 2017). She is currently working on a new book project entitled Halal Animals: Food, Faith, and the Future of Planetary Health to be published by Oxford University Press.