The Paradoxes of Codifying Islamic Criminal Law in the Maldives

In: Middle East Law and Governance
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  • 1 Georgetown University

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Utilizing the codification of Islamic Criminal law in the Maldives, this article argues that the process of codifying Islamic law often ignores classical conceptualizations of Islamic criminal law and judicial procedures established as preventative measures against the widespread implementation of Islamic criminal punishments (ḥudūd). Instead of recognizing the legal nuance in classical debates, reliance is placed on a narrow body of texts, and extracted rules are reformed for easy implementation and compliance with modern human rights standards. By ignoring classical discussions of Islamic criminal law, and adopting a singular conception of codification, a paradox emerges wherein the resulting criminal code is less punitive, but more enforceable than its classical counterpart. A second paradox is that on one hand religious legitimacy and moral credibility is desired through the implementation of an Islamic penal code, but on the other, controversial criminalized actions are assumed to be non-prosecutable.

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