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
Posts Tagged ‘sharia’
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.
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.
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.
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?
French students protest burka ban by hiding face, showing legs.
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.