Sharia, Justice and Legal Order: Egyptian and Islamic Law: Selected Essays Rudolph Peters discusses in 35 articles practice of both Sharia and state law. The principal themes are legal order and the actual application of law both in the judiciaries as well in cultural and political debates. Many of the topics deal with penal law. Although the majority of studies are situated in the Ottoman and, especially, Egyptian period, few of them are of another region or a more recent period, such as in Nigeria or, also, Egypt. The book’s historical studies are mainly based on archival judicial records and are definitively pioneering. Although the selected articles of this book are the fruit of more than forty years of research, most of them have constantly been cited.
This Fieldnote challenges scholars of Islam and Muslims to consider how the production of knowledge on Islam and Muslims has long been, and continues to be, intimately associated with projects of governance, whether by the modern state or premodern regime. The present is simply a particularly robust historical period during which, wherever one might stand on the political spectrum, the study of Islam is undertaken in the shadow of the state—a disaggregated project of law and justice, border control, national security, and regulation. This Fieldnote recasts Islam and Muslim in an adjectival sense—‘Islamic’ and ‘Muslim’—in order to highlight their variability in relation to the purposes for which they are deployed. To better understand the dynamics by which the ‘Islamic’ is deployed for purposes of state projects, this Fieldnote outlines four registers of analysis—time, space, scale, and rhetoric—to inspire new research on the production of knowledge in the academic study of Islam and Muslims today.
In recent years Muslim extremist groups have sought to establish a contemporary Islamic caliphate. Such groups have not historically sought to establish such a territory; this form of sovereignty did not exist in the Prophet’s time, and is quite unlike the traditional Islamic model or that practiced by the Prophet in Medina. Moreover, this ideal state incorporates elements of the modern, sovereign nation-state. It is ironic that, although such groups criticize Western systems and laws, their concept of ‘the state’ derives from the very European ideology that they so violently oppose. This paper examines how notions of modern statehood have influenced the ideologies of state and law espoused by contemporary extremist groups.
Amidst violent contestation across the Middle East leaving regimes facing – or fearing – popular protests, the regulation of political life became increasingly important. Across the past century, the development of political projects has been driven by regime efforts to maintain power, constructing regime-society relations in such a way to ensure their survival. As a consequence, security is not given; rather, it reflects the concerns of elites and embeds their concerns within society, using a range of domestic, regional and geopolitical strategies to meet their needs. These strategies play on a range of different fears and currents to locate regime interests within broader concerns. A key part of such efforts involves the cultivation and suppression of particular identities, often resulting in contestation and uncertainty within and between states. Drawing on the ideas of Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, the article argues that the regulation of sect-based identities – and difference – has been a key part of governance strategies in divided societies across the Middle East, albeit varying across time and space.
Amidst the politics of the Mamluk-era spice route, why did the standard-bearers of Islamic law routinely oppose the sultanate’s imposition of an alms-tax on merchandise (zakāt al-tijāra), despite the abundance of support for such a tax within the classical tradition of Islamic law? Rather than contending – as some modern scholars have – that prominent jurists developed loopholes that circumvented the original intent of the law to protect the wealthy and the ruling class, I argue that it was precisely the jurists’ careful defense of exemptions and exclusions that allowed them to define the essence of zakāt against forms of taxation they considered unlawful. By narrowing the scope of zakāt, jurists attempted to achieve a moral aim that went beyond the ritual purification of wealth: a limit on the sultanate’s otherwise arbitrary power to tax Muslims as it wished. In doing so, they alleviated some of the tax burden for spice merchants and camel herders alike.
Over the last four years, India has become the centre for a major experiment in the implementation of a so-called ‘gender-just Islam’ by Islamic feminist organisations: the formation of a non-official, female-led sharī‘ah court network, within which women serve as qāẓīs (religious judges) to adjudicate disputes within Muslim families. Presenting themselves as counterweights to more patriarchal legal bodies, including both the official judiciary and unofficial dispute resolution forums, these sharī‘ah‘adālats employ both state-centred and community-focused strategies to assist Muslim women experiencing marital or family-related strife. Based on interviews with female qāẓīs and associated documentary sources, I examine how the women who run these courts adjudicate family conflicts according to what they understand as both the Qur’an’s ethical teachings, and its stipulations regarding the proper methods of dispute resolution. I also argue that these all-female sharī‘ah‘adālats reflect a shift of focus away from court litigation and legislative intervention, and towards non-state, arbitration-focused practices, as the most fruitful means to protect the needs of Muslim women in contemporary India.
Islamic Jurisprudence on the Regulation of Armed Conflict: Text and Context, Nesrine Badawi argues against the existence of a “true” interpretation of the rules regulating armed conflict in Islamic law. In a survey of formative and modern seminal legal works on the subject, the author sheds light on the role played by the sociopolitical context in shaping this branch of jurisprudence and offers a detailed examination of the internal deductive structures of these works.
In most Muslim-majority countries, the legislators who drafted family law codes sought to produce a codified version of one of the many Islamic fiqh schools. Such is the case, from West to East, for Morocco, Egypt, and Indonesia. There are situations, however, in which the law remains silent. In such cases, judges must turn to fiqh in order to find appropriate provisions. It is up to judges to interpret the law and to locate the relevant rule. In this process, judges use new interpretive techniques and modes of reasoning. After addressing institutional and legal transformations in Morocco, Egypt, and Indonesia, this article focuses on the domain of family law. We examine cases that illustrate how judges seek a solution in the body of fiqh when asked to authenticate a marriage. In conclusion, we put forward an argument about how judges who are required to refer to fiqh deal with this matter within the context of positive, codified, and standardized law. We argue that the methodology and epistemology adopted by contemporary judges, the legal material on which they draw, and the means by which they refer to this material have fundamentally altered the nature of legal cognition and of law itself.