Skip to Main Content

Islamic Law

Guide to researching Islamic Law

Introductory Sources


The sources recommended in this guide are only a sample of what's available in our collection on Islamic law.  If you don't see what you need, contact us using the information to the left!  We are available for quick questions or for private research consultation by appointment.


Primary Sources - Qur'an and Hadith

A note about translations

There are many authoritative translations in other languages available in our collection.  Please consult the reference staff if you have a specific title or would like to inquire about translations in another language.

The Sources

The sources of Islamic Law are the Qur'an and the Sunnah (the traditions of the Prophet).   Most of these texts have been digitized in various translations and are available on the web. 

In addition to the web collections below, the Harvard University Libraries hold tremendous collections on the sources--in Arabic and English as well as Western European Languages.   Please consult HOLLIS or a reference librarian for further assistance.


Hadith Collections

Al-Jami' al-Kabir li-Kutub al-Turath (Digital Book Collection)


A note about books and catalogues

A good place to start is the Harvard online public catalogue called Hollis.  General books dealing with Islamic law are catalogued under Islamic Law.   Other topics are catalogued with the topic--marriage for example and Islamic law.  To find the application of Islamic law in a specific country, search for Islamic Law and a particular country like Egypt.   At Harvard, most materials on Islamic law will be found in HLSL, Widener and Andover-Harvard Theological Library.

If you are interested in knowing about books at other libraries, WorldCat is an excellent resource.  Here you will access to the collections at major research libraries all over the world.  Search terms are the same as for Hollis.


Related Books in the Harvard Libraries


Subject-Specific and Multidisciplinary Indexes for Articles

Topical Journals

Legal Indexes for Journal Articles and Books (multiple jurisdictions)

Legal periodical indexes generally only allow you to search the title, citation, abstract, keywords (sometimes author-supplied), and subject terms given to a journal article, rather than the full text.  A benefit to using a legal periodical index is that it will include all issues and volumes of a given journal, without any gaps in coverage, back to a certain date. (For example, Legaltrac's contents go back to 1980.  Full text databases can have gaps in coverage, sometimes many years' worth, for an individual journal.

Domestic Legal Systems

A note about the sources highlighted

This tab includes the sources on opinions, judgments and finding aids such as digests or indexes from the various states with Islamic law component (historical and/or contemporary).  Most of the compilations include domestic relations cases in the vernacular and English translations, if available.

Regional Sources







Sri Lanka


Other Resources

Muslim Law Systems

Muslim Law Systems and Mixed Systems with a Muslim Law Tradition provided by University of Ottawa

Fatawa - Religious Rulings

Islamic Law Collections and Islamic Legal Studies Programs

Getting Help

Contact Us!

Ask Us!Submit a question or search the knowledge base.

CallReference Desk, 617-495-4516

TextAsk a Librarian, 617-702-2728

ChatOpen a chat window

Meet Consult a Librarian

Classes View Training Calendar or Request an Insta-Class

Visit Us Library and Reference Hours