In 1995, the Islamic Finance Project (IFP) was founded by the Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES). In late 2003, IFP became a part of the Islamic Legal Studies Program (ILSP) at Harvard Law School. As the only Ivy League project of its kind, IFP aims to study the field of Islamic finance from legal perspectives by analyzing contemporary scholarship, encouraging collaboration among scholars within and outside of the Muslim world, and increasing the interaction between theory and practice in the Islamic finance industry.
IFP is interdisciplinary in nature, draws broadly from a variety of fields, and has relationships with professors and students at several university faculties: Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity School, the Kennedy School of Government and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. IFP convenes breakthrough academic forums involving scholars of law, finance, economics, and traditional Islamic ethics and law (fiqh), engaging leading thinkers in robust, inter-disciplinary dialogue. The Project’s publications add significantly to the academic literature in the field, and its lecture events and seminars have featured top global scholars and professionals.
Some of the recent initiations include collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE) in the organization of two yearly events since 2007: a specialized workshop on methodological issues confronting the field of Islamic finance and a public lecture on Islamic finance. Shari.a-complaint microfinance was another initiation to focus on how we could change this model and bring forth ideas that foster a more organic connection between Islamic finance and microfinance initiatives to alleviate poverty and stimulate economic growth. Finally, a number of panel discussions to bring much needed debate in the field of Islamic economics and finance have been conducted. And this is just a part of the many activities that IFP has undertaken in its quest to study the growing field of Islamic finance. As these activities demonstrate, IFP at the Harvard Law School is poised to offer the field of Islamic finance a much needed academic thrust.