1st Edition

Islam, Law and the Modern State (Re)imagining Liberal Theory in Muslim Contexts

By Arif A. Jamal Copyright 2018
    164 Pages
    by Routledge

    164 Pages
    by Routledge

    Within the global phenomenon of the (re)emergence of religion into issues of public debate, one of the most salient issues confronting contemporary Muslim societies is how to relate the legal and political heritage that developed in pre-modern Islamic polities to the political order of the modern states in which Muslims now live. This work seeks to develop a framework for addressing this issue. The central argument is that liberal theory, and in particular justice as discourse, can be normatively useful in Muslim contexts for relating religion, law and state. Just as Muslim contexts have developed historically, and continue to develop today, the same is the case with the requisites of liberal theory, and this may allow for liberal choices to be made in a manner that is not a renunciation of Muslim heritage.


    i. The challenge

    ii. The structure

    iii. The approach

    iv. The contribution and the argument

    Chapter 1: Developing the concept of ‘justice as discourse’

    1.1 The challenge of diversity: liberal theory’s normative commitment

    1.2 Alternatives to Rawls’ theory

    1.3 Constructing a theory: justice as discourse

    1.4 Justice as discourse versus some alternatives

    1.5 Conclusion

    Chapter 2: Justice as discourse in application

    2.1 Justice as discourse and classical liberal theory

    2.2 Justice as discourse and the Secular

    2.3 Implementing justice as discourse: the axes of state, law, civil society and politics

    2.4 Conclusion

    Chapter 3: Muslim Contexts I: History and heritage

    3.1 Why use the term ‘Muslim contexts’?

    3.2 What is the same, and what is different, about Muslim contexts?

    3.3 The politico-legal legacy

    3.4 Conclusion and lessons from the heritage

    Chapter 4: Muslim Contexts II: Contemporary contexts

    4.1 Re- working the law: replacement, codifications and ‘etatization’

    4.2 The nexus of Din, Dunya and Dawla: religion, politics and the state – divided?

    4.3 Contemporary opinions in Muslim populations

    4.4 Prospects for democracy?

    4.5  Conclusion

    Chapter 5: Terms of engagement: (re)imagining religion, law, state and society for Muslim contexts

    5.1 Challenges to the uses of liberal theory

    5.2 Defining a practical political model

    5.3 The bridge from politics to law: Menski’s kite

    5.4 The overall argument and conclusion



    Arif A. Jamal is Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law where he teaches comparative law, legal theory, law and religion, and Islamic law. He has studied and researched in law, politics and Islamic studies in Canada, the UK and the USA, and writes on issues of law and religion, comparative law and law in Muslim contexts.

    'This path-breaking study on comparative public law confirms that the globalisation of debates about the relationship of law and religion allows today a profound, sensible re-assessment of plurality-conscious ‘justice as discourse’. Truly liberal theories of justice can indeed be reformulated and contextually applied to include Muslim concepts. An argumentative masterpiece!'

    Prof. Emeritus Werner Menski, SOAS University of London, UK

    'In a time of political Islamic reductionism, when the plural experience of Islam is at risk of being reduced to a dogmatic monolith, Jamal’s book invites Muslims to engage with liberal theories of justice not as the passive recipients of Western ideas, but as the active innovators of the local and global polity.'

    Professor Marco Ventura, University of Siena, Italy

    'This is a highly commendable and fresh contribution to the debates on the relationship between Islam and the Modern State; proposing a much needed third way apart from a theocracy or an anti-religious secular state. A well researched and highly recommended read.'

    Professor Mashood A. Baderin, SOAS University of London, UK