940 Advanced Islamic Law: Relationships of Law & Government - §015, Spring 2009

Categories: International and Comparative Law Legal Theory and Jurisprudence

Instructor(s) Quraishi, Asifa

This course explores the relationship between Islamic law and governmental power from classical to modern times.  We will begin with classical constitutional structures and move to modern Islamic State issues, addressing themes such as: the Interaction of Islamic Law, democracy and pluralism.  Building on the basic premise that legal authority in Islamic history was divided between Muslim rulers (caliphs, sultans, kings, and so on) and the jurist-scholars of Islamic law, we will study several historical variations of this classical Muslim separation of powers, and then investigate how that model was transformed in modern times into new constitutional arrangements what this all means for contemporary Islamic religious and political discourse.

The course is organized roughly along historical lines, beginning with several classical examples of the legal and political checks and balances operating at various periods and places in Muslim history.  These will be studied for their specific contextualization of the issues, as well as for any insights they lend to contemporary issues in Islamic constitutionalism.  We then turn to the colonial and post-colonial eras, and the resulting transformation of law and authority in modern nation-states.  A legal-historical review of selected countries will be followed by an exploration of the intellectual and social discourses about Islamic states, and as well as the purpose and evolution of Islamism from early independence movements to today.  The course will then turn to contemporary debates about the compatibility of Islam (particularly Islamic law and the Islamic state) and democracy and international norms of human rights, civil rights, and constitutionalism.  Finally, we will broaden the question of the role of Islamic law in modern states by examining discourses in countries where Muslims are a minority.  Selected case studies from Europe and North America will illustrate how benign theoretical appreciation for pluralism and tolerance can become strained and often insufficient to resolve complex questions of pluralism in liberal democratic states.


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