democracy sharia and pluralism

The majority of Muslims today live in democracies (think Indonesia), yet a significant proportion are living in monarchies and dictatorships. When politics is put aside, what does Islam really say? Is it easier to practice Islam in a dictatorship or pluralistic democracy? And how should Muslims understand and conceptualise Sharia law? 


books

Reasoning with God: Reclaiming shari'a'h in the modern age (khaled abou el fadl)

In light of recent concern over Shari'ah, such as proposed laws to prohibit it in the United States and conflict over the role it should play in the new Egyptian constitution, many people are confused about the meaning of Shari'ah in Islam and its role in the world today. In Reasoning with God, renowned Islamic scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl explains not only what Shari'ah really means, but also the way it can revitalize and reengage contemporary Islam. After a prologue that provides an essential overview of Shari'ah, Abou El Fadl explores the moral trajectory of Islam in today's world. Weaving powerful personal stories with broader global examples, he shows the ways that some interpretations of Islam today have undermined its potential in peace and love. Rather than simply outlining challenges, however, the author provides constructive suggestions about how Muslims can reengage the ethical tradition of their faith through Shari'ah. As the world's second largest religion, Islam remains an important force on the global stage. Reasoning with God takes readers-both Muslim and non-Muslim-beyond superficial understandings of Shari'ah to a deeper understanding of its meaning and potential.

Islam and the Secular State (Abdullahi An-Naim

What should be the place of Shari'a - Islamic religious law - in predominantly Muslim societies of the world? In this ambitious and topical book, a Muslim scholar and human rights activist envisions a positive and sustainable role for Shari'a, based on a profound rethinking of the relationship between religion and the secular state in all societies. An-Na'im argues that the coercive enforcement of Shari'a by the state betrays the Qur'an's insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, Shari'a should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Na'im maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce Shari'a. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an 'Islamic state' is based on European ideas of state and law, and not Shari'a or the Islamic tradition. Bold, pragmatic, and deeply rooted in Islamic history and theology, "Islam and the Secular State" offers a workable future for the place of Shari'a in Muslim societies

Islam and democracy: fear of the modern world (fatima mernissi)

Is Islam compatible with democracy? Must fundamentalism win out in the Middle East, or will democracy ever be possible? In this now-classic book, Islamic sociologist Fatima Mernissi explores the ways in which progressive Muslims--defenders of democracy, feminists, and others trying to resist fundamentalism--must use the same sacred texts as Muslims who use them for violent ends, to prove different views. Updated with a new introduction by the author written in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Islam and Democracy serves as a guide to the players moving the pieces on the rather grim Muslim chessboard. It shines new light on the people behind today's terrorist acts and raises provocative questions about the possibilities for democracy and human rights in the Islamic world. Essential reading for anyone interested in the politics of the Middle East today, Islam and Democracy is as timely now as it was upon its initial, celebrated publication.


VIDEOS

"Constitutional democracy fulfills shari'a objectives and is the best form of government we know today", says Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, professor of law at UCLA. "Convictions, if religious or not, are expressions of selfhood and human dignity and need to be accommodated in the public sphere as long as they do not impinge the rights of others...therefore, belief in God's law as well as the rejection of it, all should be welcome in the public sphere and its engagements. And this makes shari'a core to the dynamics of democracy and human rights among Muslims, and between Muslims and non-Muslims."


"Constitutional democracy fulfills shari'a objectives and is the best form of government we know today", says Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, professor of law at UCLA. "Convictions, if religious or not, are expressions of selfhood and human dignity and need to be accommodated in the public sphere as long as they do not impinge the rights of others...therefore, belief in God's law as well as the rejection of it, all should be welcome in the public sphere and its engagements. And this makes shari'a core to the dynamics of democracy and human rights among Muslims, and between Muslims and non-Muslims."


"If a state claims to be Islamic and imposes a particular view of Islam, it is denying my freedom to disagree. And that is why we need a secular state", says Abdullahi An-Na'im, a leading scholar of law and Islamic jurisprudence. Resetdoc interviewed him during the 2011 edition of our Istanbul Seminars. "Shari'a is a human endeavor to understand the divine, but it remains human, and every believer is accountable for her or his understanding," explains Dr. An-Na'im. "Hence, any honest Muslim needs human rights: freedom of belief, freedom of association, freedom from oppression, the right to debate, to contest and to dissent. Since every Muslim is only supposing or guessing, none has a superior claim to the truth of what Shari'a is." In fact, "in the intellectual Islamic tradition Shari'a was understood as zanni, i.e. suppositional. This is a good state of being," says the Sudanese-American philosopher, "because certitude would inevitably tend to authoritarianism, oppression and domination of others because 'you' have the truth as Got revealed it. And logically, the possibility of being a Muslim, the possibility of belief requires the possibility of disbelief : if I am not free to believe, there is no value do my belief. For this reason, creating conditions in which I keep the freedom to believe or not to believe is critical to the possibility of being a Muslim. I need the state to be secular so I can be the Muslim I choose to be by conviction."


Two of the most influential reformers from "within" Islam, Tariq Ramadan and Abdullahi An-Na'im are discussing what shari'a is and should be: a set of principles and morals for believers, never a body of law to be enforced by the State? Both wish democracy, equality amongst citizens, human rights. But they also disagree: Tariq Ramadan believes shari'a should be named in the Arab constitutions as Muslims draw principles of justice for change from within their own tradition and religion. For An- Na'im, on the contrary, the religious needs to be kept far from the political: only a secular state can guarantee the realization of the Islamic objective of justice in Muslim societies.