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In Coercion and Responsibility in Islam, Mairaj Syed explores how classical Muslim theologians and jurists from four intellectual traditions argue about the thorny issues that coercion raises about responsibility for one's action. This is done by assessing four ethical problems: whether the absence of coercion or compulsion is a condition for moral agency; how the law ought to define what is coercive; coercion's effect on the legal validity of speech acts; and its effects on moral and legal responsibility in the cases of rape and murder. Through a comparative and historical examination of these ethical problems, the book demonstrates the usefulness of a new model for analyzing ethical thought produced by intellectuals working within traditions in a competitive pluralistic environment. The book compares classical Muslim thought on coercion with that of modern Western thinkers on these issues and finds significant parallels between them. The finding suggests that a fruitful starting point for comparative ethical inquiry, especially inquiry aimed at the discovery of common ground for ethical action, may be found in an examination of how ethicists from different traditions considered concrete problems.
This book offers a new theoretical perspective on the thought of the great fifteenth-century Egyptian polymath, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 1505). In spite of the enormous popularity that al-Suyuti's works continue to enjoy amongst scholars and students in the Muslim world, he remains underappreciated by western academia. This project contributes to the fields of Mamluk Studies, Islamic Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies not only an interdisciplinary analysis of al-Suyuti's legal writing within its historical context, but also a reflection on the legacy of the medieval jurist to modern debates. The study highlights the discursive strategies that the jurist uses to construct his own authority and frame his identity as a superior legal scholar during a key transitional moment in Islamic history. The approach aims for a balance between detailed textual analysis and 'big picture' questions of how legal identity and religious authority are constructed, negotiated and maintained. Al-Suyuti's struggle for authority as one of a select group of trained experts vested with the moral responsibility of interpreting God's law in society finds echoes in contemporary debates, particularly in his native land of Egypt. At a time when increasing numbers of people in the Arab world have raised their voices to demand democratic forms of government that nevertheless stay true to the principles of Shari'a, the issue of who has the ultimate authority to interpret the sources of law, to set legal norms, and to represent the 'voice' of Shari'a principles in society is still in dispute.
In this book Rumee Ahmed shatters the prevailing misconceptions of the purpose and form of the Islamic legal treatise. Through a subtle interpretation of the work of major Islamic jurists, he reveals how the moral teachings of Islam were translated into a legal context in the critical, formative period of Islamic law.
The question of tolerance and Islam is not a new one. Polemicists are certain that Islam is not a tolerant religion. As evidence they point to the rules governing the treatment of non-Muslim permanent residents in Muslim lands, namely the dhimmi rules that are at the center of this study. These rules, when read in isolation, are certainly discriminatory in nature. They legitimate discriminatory treatment on grounds of what could be said to be religious faith and religious difference. The dhimmi rules are often invoked as proof-positive of the inherent intolerance of the Islamic faith (and thereby of any believing Muslim) toward the non-Muslim. This book addresses the problem of the concept of 'tolerance' for understanding the significance of the dhimmi rules that governed and regulated non-Muslim permanent residents in Islamic lands. In doing so, it suggests that the Islamic legal treatment of non-Muslims is symptomatic of the more general challenge of governing a diverse polity. Far from being constitutive of an Islamic ethos, the dhimmi rules raise important thematic questions about Rule of Law, governance, and how the pursuit of pluralism through the institutions of law and governance is a messy business. As argued throughout this book, an inescapable, and all-too-often painful, bottom line in the pursuit of pluralism is that it requires impositions and limitations on freedoms that are considered central and fundamental to an individual's well-being, but which must be limited for some people in some circumstances for reasons extending well beyond the claims of a given individual. A comparison to recent cases from the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Court of Human Rights reveals that however different and distant premodern Islamic and modern democratic societies may be in terms of time, space, and values, legal systems face similar challenges when governing a populace in which minority and majority groups diverge on the meaning and implication of values deemed fundamental to a particular polity.
The study of Islamic law can be a forbidding prospect for those entering the field for the first time. Wael Hallaq, a leading scholar and practitioner of Islamic law, guides students through the intricacies of the subject in this absorbing introduction. The first half of the book is devoted to a discussion of Islamic law in its pre-modern natural habitat. The second part explains how the law was transformed and ultimately dismantled during the colonial period. In the final chapters, the author charts recent developments and the struggles of the Islamists to negotiate changes which have seen the law emerge as a primarily textual entity focused on fixed punishments and ritual requirements. The book, which includes a chronology, a glossary of key terms, and lists of further reading, will be the first stop for those who wish to understand the fundamentals of Islamic law, its practices and history.
This book seeks to open new lines of discussion about how Islamic law is viewed as a potential tool for programs of social transformation in contemporary Muslim society. It does this through a critical examination of the workings of the state shari'a system as it was designed and implemented at the turn of the twenty-first century in Aceh, Indonesia. While the empirical details of these discussions are unique, this particular case presents a remarkable site for investigating the broader issue of the impact of instrumentalist, future-oriented visions of Islamic law on modern Muslim calls for the state implementation of Islamic law. In post-tsunami/post-conflict Aceh, the idea of shari'a as an exercise in social engineering was amplified through resonance with an increasingly pervasive rhetoric of 'total reconstruction'. Based upon extensive fieldwork as well as critical readings of a wide range of archival materials, official documents, and local publications this work focuses on the institutions and actors involved with this contemporary project for the state implementation of Islamic law. The individual chapters are structured to deal with the major components of this system to critically examine how these institutions have taken shape and how they work. It also shows how the overall system was informed not only by aspects of late twentieth-century da'wa discourses of Islamic reform, but also modern trends in sociological jurisprudence and the impact of global models of disaster relief, reconstruction, and development. All of these streams of influence have contributed significantly to shaping the ways in which the architects and agents of the state shari'a system have attempted to use Islamic legislation and legal institutions as tools to steer society in particular desired directions.
This book presents a broad account of the present knowledge of the history and outlines the system of Islamic law. Showing that Islamic law is the key to understanding the essence of one of the great world religions, this book explores how it still influences the laws of contemporary Islamicstates, and is in itself a remarkable manifestation of legal thought.

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