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Lev Weitz

Toleration: Thought and Practice in the Societies of the Medieval Islamic World

Panel: Minorities, Pluralism, Law – Wednesday, January 20 (11am -1pm PST // 2pm -4pm EST)
Lev Weitz photo

Lev Weitz is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Director of Islamic World Studies at the Catholic University of America. His research focuses on the religious community and practices of particularly Syriac Christians under the early Islamic Caliphate. His monograph, Between Christ and Caliph: Law, Marriage, and Christian Community in Early Islam (2018), explores how these Christian communities adapted to political and legal rule by the Caliphate and the cultural and religious hegemony of Muslims. He focuses on tthe ways in which Chrsitain communities codified their own laws on sex, marriage and the family in order to insulate Christian communities and families from influence from Muslims. He also demonstrates how in the process those Christians and their clergy instituted legal regimes that clearly marked religious identity and imposed rules that were comparable to those that Muslims applied through their courts, a process he refers to as “Christian Sharia.”

In 2019, Weitz wrote an article describing related dynamics, particularly in Egypt between the 5th and 11th century CE. He read a substantial corpus of legal documents to show how Christians in Egypt increasingly turned to a judiciary that relied more and more on Islamic law to govern inheritance, and turned away from autonomous coptic courts and mediators. This shows how a religious minority that had attempted to distinguish itself through law turned to new legal practices, and in the process contributed to the “Islamization” of Egypt in the period.

Example of published work: 

Lev E. Weitz, Between Christ and Caliph: Law, Marriage, and Christian Community in Early Islam (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018);