Posts Tagged ‘sharia’

April 23rd, 2014

Egypt and the elusiveness of shar’iyyah

posted by

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.

March 10th, 2014

Egypt after the coup

posted by

On July 3, 2013, after four days of intense public protests, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was removed, by force, from elected office.

December 2nd, 2013

Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law

posted by

In his new book, Religious Pluralism and Islamic LawAnver Emon discusses Islamic legal doctrines and their implications for religious diversity and tolerance in Islamic lands.

December 11th, 2012

Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration

posted by

In Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration, editors Anna C. Korteweg and Jennifer A. Selby gather a multidisciplinary group of academics to tackle the challenge of promoting diversity while protecting religious freedom and women’s equality.

September 11th, 2012

Religious freedom as a binding practice of suspicion

posted by

I would like to begin with a famous case in Egypt that, though over a decade and a half old, remains salient for thinking about religious freedom. This is the apostasy case of Nasr Abu Zayd, the professor of Arabic and Islamic studies who was declared an apostate by the Egyptian courts, and whose marriage was forcibly annulled as a result. The case was raised using a highly controversial principle within Egyptian law, and much of the debate was about whether its use was acceptable within this case. This principle was called hisba, and it technically means, “the commanding of the good when its practice is manifestly neglected, and the forbidding of the detestable when its practice becomes manifest.”

August 20th, 2012

Religion and modern communication

posted by

There has been considerable amount of research on how commodification and the Internet are transforming the religious lives of young people. For young Muslims, Internet use is an important means of building a consensus about, for example, whether the use of henna for cosmetic purposes is com­patible with Muslim tradition or whether dating and premarital intimacies are compatible with the life of a “good Muslim.” Whereas the religious sys­tem of communication in an age of revelation was hierarchical, unitary, and authoritative, the system of communicative acts in a new media environment are typically horizontal rather than vertical, diverse and fragmented rather than unitary, devolved rather than centralized. Furthermore, the authority of any message is constantly negotiable and negotiated. The growth of these diverse centers of interpretation in a global communication system has pro­duced considerable instability in the formal system of religious belief and practice.

May 7th, 2012

New guidelines are pending for Islamic financial industry

posted by

The AAOIFI, a Bahrain-based regulatory body for Islamic financial institutions, announced that it will revise its guidelines.

April 30th, 2012

Nahda’s return to history

posted by

The Tunisian uprisings of December 2010 are often depicted in negative terms, as lacking leadership, ideology, and political organization. Nahda (the Tunisian Islamist movement that, after decades of exile and repression, won 40 percent of the seats in the elections of October 2011) members are now accused of working to turn Tunisia into a “sharia state,” in which religious freedom, women’s rights, and freedom of expression would cease to exist. While the fears of individuals and groups who disagree with Islamists have to be taken seriously, discussion of current changes needs to be based on a real engagement, not on caricature.

April 16th, 2012

Paradoxes of “religious freedom” in Egypt

posted by

The place of religion in the political order is arguably the most contentious issue in post-Mubarak Egypt. With Islamist-oriented parties controlling over 70 percent of seats in the new People’s Assembly and the constitution-writing process about to begin, liberals and leftists are apprehensive about the implications for Egyptian law and society, including the rights of Egypt’s millions of Coptic Christians.

April 13th, 2012

Change over time: A conversation with Robert W. Hefner

posted by

In this installment of the Rites and Responsibilities dialogue series, I met with the Boston University anthropologist and scholar of Islam Robert W. Hefner. A world renowned expert on Muslim culture, politics, and education in Southeast Asia and beyond, Hefner is the author or co-editor of more than a dozen books, including Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia and Shari‘a Politics: Law and Society in the Modern World.

February 23rd, 2012

Women’s Rights, Muslim Family Law, and the Politics of Consent

posted by

Lila Abu-Lughod and Anumpama Rao—editors of Women’s Rights, Muslim Family Law, and the Politics of Consent, a special issue of SocialDifference-Online—sat down for a conversation with the editors of Jadaliyya.

January 23rd, 2012

Goldman’s foray into Islamic finance

posted by

Goldman Sachs is facing new controversy, this time in the Islamic world.

September 8th, 2011

The paradoxes of the re-Islamization of Muslim societies

posted by

The 9/11 debate was centered on a single issue: Islam. Osama Bin Laden was taken at his own words by the West: Al-Qaeda, even if its methods were supposedly not approved by most Muslims, was seen as the vanguard or at least a symptom of “Muslim wrath” against the West… Then came, just ten years after 9/11, the Arab Spring, in which Islam did not play a role, and the killing of Osama Bin Laden, whose death went almost unnoticed among Muslim public opinion. What about the “Muslim wrath”? Suddenly, the issue of Islam and jihad being at the core of the political mobilization in Muslim societies seemed to become, at least for a time, irrelevant. So what went wrong with the perception of the Western media, leaders, and public opinion? Was the West wrong about the role of Islam in shaping political mobilization in Muslim societies? Yes. The essentialist and culturalist approach, common to both the clash of and dialogue of civilizations theories, missed three elements: society, politics, and more astonishingly . . . religion.

September 6th, 2011

Arguing against anti-Shari‘a legislation

posted by

In The New York Times, Eliyahu Stern, assistant professor of Religious Studies and History at Yale, argues that current efforts to outlaw Shari‘a interfere with the ability of Muslims to govern their own communities. More importantly, perhaps, these efforts discriminate against a religious group using the same arguments often used to deny Jews full citizenship during Europe’s past

September 6th, 2011

Banning Shari‘a

posted by

Ten years after 9/11, Americans cope with insecurity in their day-to-day welfare at home, while contending with continued warnings of an ominous threat of violence from abroad. With all this insecurity, it is perhaps quite predictable that features of the national discourse posit a crisis of existential proportion, hitting the very fabric of our being as a nation and a people. Simply to posit that there is a crisis is not enough; a crisis begs to be resolved, to be stymied, to be put right once again. To do that, though, requires identifying and locating the source of that crisis. With al-Qaeda both everywhere and nowhere, and the challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq too complex for most of us to understand, our attention turns to the nearest, most apparent and obvious site that represents that threat.

July 7th, 2011

The politics of inaccuracy and a case for “Islamic law”

posted by

Since the process of understanding divine law is not a uniform or singular one, there are multiple interpretations of what divine law is, and, consequently, there are many schools of Islamic legal thought. The sharīʿah-fiqh distinction is one that is clearly recognized in Islamic jurisprudential texts and beyond. While I am still in the process of undertaking a thorough historical study, I suspect that the conflation of the terms sharīʿah and fiqh became normative among Muslims in the modern era—particularly in the context of Islamist-based resistance to imperialism. Regardless of the precise genealogy, the use of the term sharīʿah rather than fiqh in contemporary Muslim discourses has political motivations and ramifications; in other words, it is essentially about power.

May 2nd, 2011

Sea burial of Osama bin Laden prompts criticism from scholars, clerics

posted by

The Guardian reports that some Islamic scholars and clerics are claiming that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was in violation of shari’a law and may provoke calls for retaliation against the United States.

December 1st, 2010

Shari’a, Family, and Democracy

posted by

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, M. Christian Green, and John Witte, Jr., principal investigators of an SSRC-funded project “Shari’a, Family, and Democracy in Nigeria and Beyond,” have unveiled a new blog that will address the central issues that animate their research.

November 3rd, 2010

“Serving Two Masters”? Not in Oklahoma…

posted by

Last week, Stanley Fish contemplated the compatibility of religious and constitutional law in the secular state, ultimately offering a short review of the forthcoming edited volume Shari’a in the West. “Must a devout Muslim (or orthodox Jew or fundamentalist Christian),” he asked, “choose between his or her faith and the letter of the law of the land?

October 26th, 2010

Muffling the conflict

posted by

Stanley Fish on John Milbank’s contribution to “Shari’a in the West”.

October 12th, 2010

“Niqabitches” take on Paris

posted by

French students protest burka ban by hiding face, showing legs.

September 20th, 2010

Skyping secularism: Religion and democracy

posted by , , and

At the end of our last post (an extension of our discussions at the IWM Summer School in Cortona), we asked whether secularism and liberalism in fact always go together, as is often supposed. In our second round of Skype conversations, we began to address this question by discussing a related one: to what degree are liberalism and privatized religion necessary for democracy? This discussion was inspired by our IWM course on “Religion and Democracy,” taught by José Casanova and Marcin Krol, which drew on examples of democratic societies to examine the variety of roles that public religion and liberalism, respectively, play in enhancing or inhibiting democratic life.

August 17th, 2010

The UK’s first “anti-terror” summer camp

posted by

Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri has founded the United Kingdom’s first anti-terrorism camp, reports Dominic Casciani for the BBC.

July 13th, 2010

France wrestles with upcoming vote to ban burqa

posted by

The popular push to ban the burqa in France lacks clear legality, reports The Associated Press.

April 23rd, 2010

Muslims in European public spheres and the limits of liberal theories of citizenship

posted by

istanbul'un Orta Yeri Minare by :::Melike::: "ex oriente lux" | Photograph used under a Creative Commons licenseRecent events in Europe, from the cartoon crisis in Denmark to the controversy over the construction of minarets in Switzerland, have brought the status of Islam in the secular public sphere to the forefront of European political debates. The consequences of these debates can be seen in a hardening of the boundary between what is public and what is private, as many assume that religion generally belongs to the private sphere. Collective views in Europe have come to dictate that any claim or expression in public space deriving from religious beliefs be seen as illegitimate. As Jürgen Habermas has noted, the liberal vision of a secular public sphere imposes a special burden on the shoulders of religious citizens. Many believers, however, would not be able to undertake such an artificial division in their own minds between their religious beliefs and their civic commitments without destabilizing their existence as pious persons.

January 12th, 2010

Rethinking ikhtilat in Saudi Arabia

posted by

The Economist reports that certain elements of the Saudi clerical elite are reconsidering the validity of the ban on ikhtilat, the mixing of sexes.

January 5th, 2010

The state of Shari’a in the UK

posted by

In The Times, Douglas Murray opines on the foothold Islamic law has gained in British public life and explores how the emergence of Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and the growth of Shari’a-compliant finance may affect British national identity and the rule of law in the UK.

August 25th, 2008

The challenge of creating change

posted by

Abdullahi An-Na‘im’s Islam and the Secular State has rightfully received a great deal of attention and commentary. A prominent Muslim scholar and human rights activist, he brings to bear an impressive scholarship and candor in addressing a pivotal and hotly contested issue in contemporary Islam. Although An-Na‘im wishes to present his views from within the Islamic tradition, he also states early on that his arguments are not exegetical in nature and therefore do not aim to interpret traditional Islamic sources such as Qur’an, hadith, tafsir, or legal theory (usul al-fiqh). Rather, An-Na‘im desires to provide an “interpretative framework” upon which more substantive arguments and analysis can be built in the future. This reliance on theory rather than on textual sources or theology is flawed if one expects to foster broad-based reform rather than be read and celebrated by a small elite Muslim and non-Muslim readership. […]

August 19th, 2008

Preaching to the converted

posted by

Islam and The Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a is avowedly didactic, aiming to persuade Muslims in public debate that constitutional rule of law, human rights and democratic citizenship in a secular state represent the only form of political regime consistent with Islam in the modern world. Despite lengthy and repetitious exposition of the notions of democratic constitutionalism, “civic reason,” citizenship and human rights, An-Na`im fails in his explicit purpose of justifying and legitimizing them in Islamic terms, which appear somewhat incidentally and do not carry the primary charge of justification. In this regard, his preaching can only have an effect on those already converted.

July 24th, 2008

“Call it X”

posted by

I am grateful for the kind and thoughtful comments posted at The Immanent Frame about Islam and the Secular State. It is fascinating and instructive to see a text grow to have a life of its own, with some readers adding clarification and more effective communication of what one is attempting to say. Even misunderstanding is helpful in alerting an author to the risks of miscommunication, instead of assuming that people do understand what we say as we mean it. Indeed, it is the combination of the author’s purpose and the reader’s comprehension that determines what is actually communicated. It is that complex outcome unfolding over time, and not an author’s unilateral theorizing, that can make “a good theory,” for according to Kurt Lewin’s helpful insight, “there is nothing so practical as a good theory.” In this light, I offer the following reflections in the spirit of contributing to a process of collaborative theory-making. […]

July 21st, 2008

Does tolerance require struggle?

posted by

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im’s erudite and thought-provoking book Islam and The Secular State provides a clear-sighted argument made from within the Islamic tradition for a state formation that allows Islamic beliefs and culture to enter the public domain through politics (as one of many rationally contested visions) and thereby influence the laws of the land. The keys to An-Na’im’s vision are Islamic morality and civic reason, both of which, in his interpretation, ensure a shared respect for constitutionalism, citizenship and human rights, and a neutral, secular state that provides an even playing field for public debate and makes sure that non-democratic instincts are kept in check. An-Na’im’s utopian vision stumbles here, however, in failing to provide any mechanisms for achieving its desired outcomes beyond good will, morality, and reason. […]

July 14th, 2008

Arguing with An-Na`im

posted by

What is interesting about An-Na`im’s arguments is that they ground the case for the secular state not in the Quran, not in claims about the presence of the imago Dei in the person or in some other source of the person’s intrinsic dignity, not in natural law, some closely similar type of practical reason, or universal moral precepts, but rather in what might be called “second order” observations about the phenomenology of belief, the character of government, the lessons of history, and the like. To be sure, good reasons for the secular state lie therein. But are these arguments sufficient to ground an Islamic case for constitutionalism, human rights, and the secular state? I doubt it.

July 9th, 2008

Disentangling Islam and the post-colonial state

posted by

The separation—and combination—of religion and state have created almost as many configurations as there are states in the world today. All sorts of institutional and normative orders have emerged out of the struggle and cooperation of state and religious forces. Even in the United States, with its purported strict separation of state and religion and its constitutional prohibition against the state’s establishment of any single religion, all sorts of complicated relationships have existed, from the status of Christmas as an official state holiday to the religious invocations delivered in Congress. … All this is to say that any simple categorization of states as simply secular or religious will probably miss what is most interesting in how citizens experience daily life and how the religious and political realms are intertwined. […]

July 1st, 2008

Islamic politics and human rights

posted by

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im’s expressed goal in Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari’a is to convince Muslims on religious grounds that, in order for Islam to flourish, they need to establish secular states based on the protection of human rights. I would say in response that convincing Muslims of this would inflect Islamic politics progressively in a world where most of the forces that shape Islamic politics are not indigenously Islamic. […]

June 21st, 2008

Liberating shari’a

posted by

Sometimes, context is everything. For much of the twentieth century, at least since the 1920s in Egypt and the 1900s in Iran, activists advanced Islam as an alternative to existing government in Muslim-majority countries. Actually existing government was identified with secularism—first in the colonial and then in the independence period—and “Islam” specifically with its operationalization in Shari’a. As comprehensive guidance to right conduct from ritual to social and business relations, Shari’a is more than law, to which it is sometimes reduced when positioned as alternative to secular, civil codes and more ambitiously deployed to preclude legislation on such matters.[…]

June 20th, 2008

A secular state must deliver

posted by

It is hard to disagree with the main arguments of Abdullahi an-Na’im’s impeccable book: a healthy religious life requires a secular state, even as political life may remain infused with the religious values of the population. And the historical examples provide added credence to the point. An Islamic state as such never existed historically, even though pre-modern states cannot be regarded as secular in the contemporary sense of the word. But there has never been a state in Islamic history that fused entirely religious and political authority after Muhammad, and it is far from obvious that Muhammad’s own Medina community constituted a state or was meant as a model for any state. […]

May 29th, 2008

Misrepresenting Islam

posted by

Suggestions that Presidential candidate Barack Obama was a Muslim seemed to have subsided when his controversial pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, walked onto the stage. But even as Obama defended his Christian faith, and his choice of churches, speculation about his connection to Islam continued on-line as well as within the mainstream press, including an Op-Ed entitled “President Apostate” in The New York Times (May 12, 2008) by the military strategist and historian Edward Luttwak (and, exactly a week later, in a May 19 Christian Science Monitor Op-Ed entitled “Barack Obama–Muslim Apostate?“). Now, as if to flip the Muslim coin, Mr. Luttwak, Ms. Burki, and others speculate that Muslims will hold Mr. Obama to a higher religious standard because he does not embrace the religion of his father. […]

May 27th, 2008

An Islamic case for a secular state

posted by

If the state is going to enforce any principle from Islamic sources, according to Abdullahi An-Na‘im, then it should implement the principle that the state should not enforce Islamic principles. This is the crux of An-Na‘im’s new book, Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari‘a. An-Na‘im, a renowned Islamic scholar and human rights activist, is a leading member of the generation of Muslim intellectuals that came to prominence in the 1980s as critics of both Islamist revolutionaries and post-colonial dictators. According to An-Na‘im, the secular state is not just a good thing on public-policy grounds; it is also justified on Islamic grounds. […]

May 5th, 2008

A man with a mission

posted by

Abdullahi An-Na’im is a man with a mission. As the expatriate Sudanese law professor told The New Yorker writer George Packer in a recent article, his new book on Islam and the Secular State was written as “a work of advocacy more than of scholarship.” But as an advocate to whom? […]

April 28th, 2008

Islam and authority

posted by

In his new book, Abdullahi an-Na`im argues that Muslims need a secular state to live their religious lives. Alongside his immensely informative account of modern developments, he makes a sustained argument against state enforcement of Islam along two major lines. First, it makes no religious sense for a state to force Muslims to follow God’s will, because Muslims should act from conviction and choice. An-Na`im makes a second argument that is parallel to the first: not only is it futile and religiously counter-productive to enforce Islamic piety, but doing so also distorts and impoverishes religion.

April 21st, 2008

Secularism and the paradoxes of Muslim politics

posted by

Few books in Islamic studies have been as eagerly awaited or intensely debated prior to publication as Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im’s Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a. Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, An-Na`im has for more than twenty years been a tireless proponent of a deeply religious but liberal-modernist reformation of Islamic politics and ethics. […]

March 28th, 2008

Why Shariah?

posted by

Noah Feldman prefaces his plea for the Shariah in his recent article for The New York Times Magazine (“Why Shariah?“) with a reference to the proposal recently made by the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow the Shariah and Jewish law to be considered in voluntary family and arbitration courts. The Archbishop and the Professor are addressing very different issues, however. […]