Recent Posts

April 23rd, 2014

Egypt and the elusiveness of shar’iyyah

posted by Mbaye Lo

Political legitimacy in the Arab world has often been derived from Islam. Both sharia (Islamic law) and shar’iyyah (legal, legality and legitimacy) derive from the same root word, prompting traditional Muslim scholars to argue that political legitimacy is only valid when legitimized by sharia. This explains why Mohamed Morsi’s supporters during the June 2013 conflict were identifying themselves as the camps of shar’iyyah and sharia.

The word shar’iyyah has a remarkable presence in Morsi’s public speeches. He was dedicated to its retention and faithful to its application through his last stand against the Tamarod movement that led the campaign to topple him on July 3, 2013. Shar’iyyah appears more than 70 times in Morsi’s final address to the Egyptian people, which has become known as khitabu al shar’iyyah, “the legitimacy speech.” The pro-Morsi movement opposing the current regime is known as the National Alliance for shar’iyyah. Morsi’s online legacy—whether defending him or mocking his deposed government—has also been constructed around shar’iyyah. Morsi’s critics have accused him of reducing democracy to a notion of legitimacy that relies on electoral procedures but does not necessarily guarantee a process of political pluralism.

Read Egypt and the elusiveness of shar’iyyah

April 9th, 2014

Searching for the church of Islam

posted by Amr Ezzat

April 1st, 2014

Three Observations on Religion, Politics, and the Muslim Brotherhood

posted by Atef Said

March 25th, 2014

Not secularism vs. Islamism

posted by John Voll

~ More recent posts ~

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February 5th—March 7th, 2014

Beyond critique

Over the last two decades, debates on secularism and religion have become a central topic in disciplines ranging from post-colonial studies, political, and social theory to international relations and international and comparative law. The starting point for this exchange is the observation that, while “the secular” has been subjected to thorough conceptual critique, the concept of religion has remained remarkably vague. Depending on the scholar, discipline, and topic, religion features as a form of community, a type of comprehensive doctrine, a particular sort of claim in front of a court, another word for culture, a particular lived experience and practice, a position from which to critique the “enlightenment projects” secularism and liberalism, or post-modernism and post-structuralism.

Guest edited by Maria Birnbaum and Kristina Stoeckl in conjunction with the research-project ReligioWest at the European University Institute in Florence (financed by the European Research Council), this ongoing discussion invites contributors to reflect on the theoretical and methodological choices in their study of religion and the secularand on the state of the study of religion in their discipline through and beyond critique.

Read Beyond critique


January 15th, 2014

The forgotten story of the Flushing Remonstrance

posted by Wei Zhu

This past December 27th marked the 356th anniversary of the Flushing Remonstrance, a petition to the Director-General of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, regarding a law against harboring Quakers. Written by Edward Hart, the town clerk of Flushing (the Anglicized form of the Dutch Vlissingen), and signed by 30 of his fellow townsmen, the Remonstrance argued that “we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man.” The United States has long been known as a nation with a history of religious liberty; yet the Remonstrance, which expressed a vision remarkable for its time, remains virtually unknown outside of Flushing—and even within. But the compelling and unique story of the Flushing Remonstrance deserves to be rescued from the dustbin of history.

Read The forgotten story of the Flushing Remonstrance

Featured discussion

The state of religion in China

This discussion brings together scholars to understand the relationship between the state and religion in China—past, present, and future.

Featured publication

Varieties of Religious Establishment

Editors Winnifred Fallers Sullivan and Lori G. Beaman ask contributors to think about religion in public life by considering varieties of religious establishment.

Featured interview

American civil religion in the age of Obama

Joseph Blankholm talks with Philip S. Gorski about his forthcoming book on civil religion, Obama’s messianic burden, and the significance of Émile Durkheim.