Shari'a Politics: Islamic Law and Society in the Modern by Robert W. Hefner

By Robert W. Hefner

Some of the most very important advancements in Muslim politics lately has been the unfold of activities calling for the implementation of shari`a or Islamic legislation. Shari`?»a Politics maps the beliefs and association of those activities and examines their implications for the way forward for democracy, citizen rights, and gender kin within the Muslim global. those stories of 8 Muslim-majority societies, and state-of-the-field reflections by way of best specialists, give you the first comparative research of events for and opposed to implementation of shari`a. those essays show that the Muslim public's curiosity in shari`a doesn't spring from an unchanging devotion to got spiritual culture, yet from an attempt to reply to the crucial political and moral questions of the day.

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As Sami Zubaida (2003, 135; cf. Layish 2004; Peters 2002) has suggested, this étatized and codified understanding of law represented a “triumph of European models” over and against Islam’s classical tradition. One might add that the model was not just European, but continental European at that. The common-law tradition applied in the United Kingdom and in some domains of American law operates on the basis of casuistic reasoning and legal precedent, not a centrally established legal code (see Glenn 2000, 210–48).

This lack has meant that government reformists hoping to change public understandings of Islamic law have had to look elsewhere than the religious establishment for help. The executive branch has typically taken the lead in these efforts, as it did with the 1961 Muslim Family Laws Ordinance (which sought to restrict polygyny and provide women with greater inheritance rights). More vulnerable to outside pressure, the parliament has shied from such efforts. The executive’s confidence was boosted by the fact that for much of its history Pakistan has been governed by quasi-military regimes.

Some Saudi citizens, and some in the political establishment, also hope that this opening may allow for fuller recog- Introduction 29 nition of the Shiʻas, Sufis, women, and non-Muslims long given a lesser lot in Saudi society than their male Sunni counterparts (see Okruhlik 2005). One might add a point here not explicitly raised in Vogel’s incisive essay. The trend Vogel sees in the Saudi variety of shariʻa politics is based on heightened rates of citizen participation; in this aspect it resembles processes identified in other societies with democratization.

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