The Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Legal Studies (CIMELS) was founded at the Institute of Law at the University of Zurich in autumn 2008. It is guided by the awareness that the Middle East has obtained a key position as a result of globalization. The pivotal importance of this region owes much to its favorable geopolitical location, current political and discursive contexts, as well as its economic resources and development perspectives. Interdependences manifest themselves in the processes of the transnationalization of law, the rise of globally acting players, and pluralization of legal contexts on regional levels. In addition, the constantly growing migration of the last decades raises questions of how to allow for the diversity of judiciary cultures and the common authoritative frame in the destination countries. Focal points of the confrontation and public debates about the opportunities and dangers of cultural diversity are usually based on the unaccustomed interpretations and standards of law.
As a result, there has been an increased demand in services, cooperation and information, which requires a comprehensive understanding of the prevalent legal orders in the Middle Eastern countries. Juridical research in Islamic and Middle Eastern Law mainly takes place in the fields of conflict of laws, traditional comparative research and in the investigation of transfer of law. The development of Arabo-Islamic law orders during the last four decades and their current shapes has not been investigated yet sufficiently. In this regard, "re-Islamisation" is one of the key phenomena. It has found its expression in family law, penal codes and in the recourse to Islamic legal reasoning to authorize modernization and reform. The simultaneity of persistence and change in all fields of Islamic Law has become a focal point of research.
As a service-oriented institution, CIMELS offers legal advocacy and fosters research in Islamic and Middle Eastern Law.