Law, Religion and Social Order: Unpacking the Promise of Sharia
The call for imposition of Sharia (Islamic law) has been central to the rise of political Islam. The public discourse of the parties that won in post-Arab Spring elections — the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Al-Nahda in Tunisia — and those of Islamist groups in other Muslim countries, has historically revolved around the demand for a Sharia-based society.
Yet the societal consequences of a move towards Sharia-based laws in any Muslim country can be dramatic given that most currently follow Western constitutional frameworks inherited in colonial times.
Organized as part of the Law, Justice and Society at Wolfson research cluster, this workshop will examine the relationship between Western law, Sharia, and the future of Muslim societies.
The papers presented in the workshop will address a number of critical questions aimed at understanding the popular appeal of Sharia, its ability to act as a constitutional framework, and most importantly its implications for socio-economic and political developments.
Questions addressed will include:
- How important is the ‘promise of Sharia’ in explaining the popular appeal of the Islamists?;
- Can Sharia meet the demands of a democratic constitution, as expected in the Western legal framework?
- What provisions does Sharia provide for protection of social liberties, especially of less influential groups, such as women and minorities?
- Can Sharia-based economic policies promise a different economic future for Muslim societies lagging behind in economic growth? and,
- Which actors are asserting their interpretations of Sharia as these societies make a transition to democratic politics?
The workshop will bring together experts in Sharia law and political Islam to assess the situation across a range of post-Arab Spring states, including Egypt, Tunisia, and the ongoing crisis in Syria.