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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.
How do modern Muslims' attitudes to marital violence and patriarchy relate to the Islamic tradition? In recent years, discussion regarding the interpretation of the Qur'an has become highly controversial. Especially contentious is passage 4:34, which covers the legitimacy of marital violence and the subjugation of women within Islam. Scholarly opinion on the topic is heavily influenced by contemporary context, so the issue remains largely unsettled. While pre-colonial Islamic jurists permitted the use of violence against women, they still held ethical concerns about the disciplinary privileges of husbands. Consequently, the debate for these early scholars was focussed on the level of violence permitted, and how to apply the three disciplinary steps: admonishment, abandonment, and physical abuse. Ayesha Chaudhry argues that all living religious traditions are rooted in a patriarchal, social, and historical context, and they need ways to reconcile gender egalitarian values with religious tradition. Post-colonial, modern Islamic scholars that consult the Qu'ran for gender-egalitarian interpretations must confront a difficult and unique debate: equality vs authority. As in many religions, authority is derived from tradition, rebelling from which results in a loss of authority in the eyes of the community. Chaudhry reveals that Muslims do not speak with one voice about Islam. Instead, Muslim scholarly discourse is spirited and diverse. The voices of contemporary Muslim scholars enrich the scope of the 'Islamic tradition'. Many recent works on Islam strive to promote a 'public relations' image of Islam. This book deals with ethical problems of domestic violence as discussed in historic and contemporary Islamic religious doctrine. The stakes are high, and very real. The author confronts the significant issue of how modern Muslims can relate to Islamic tradition and the Qur'anic text.
In this meticulously researched volume, Leonard Wood presents his ground breaking history of Islamic revivalist thought in Islamic law. Islamic Legal Revival: Reception of European Law and Transformations in Islamic Legal Thought in Egypt, 1879-1952 brings to life the tumultuous history of colonial interventions in Islamic legal consciousness during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It tells the story of the rapid displacement of local Egyptian and Islamic law by transplanted European codes and details the evolution of resultant movements to revive Islamic law. Islamic legal revivalist movements strove to develop a modern version of Islamic law that could be codified and would replace newly imposed European laws. Wood explains in unparalleled depth and with nuance how cutting-edge trends in European legal scholarship inspired influential revivalists and informed their methods in legal thought. Timely and provocative, Islamic Legal Revival tells of the rich achievements of legal experts in Egypt who disrupted tradition in Islamic jurisprudence and created new approaches to Islamic law that were distinctively responsive to demands of the contemporary world. The story told bears important implications for understandings of Egyptian history, Islamic legal history, comparative law, and deeply contested and highly transformative interactions between European and Islamic thought.
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.
Twenty per cent of all the people in the world live under Islamic law. Going beyond steroetypes of rigid doctrine punishment the author explores the connections between everyday social life and contemporary Muslim ideas of justice and reason. Islamic law is thus seen as a kind of common law system closely attached to the cultural history of its adherents.

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