¿Providential¿ describes the work of Emory University law professor Abdullahai Ahmed An-Na`im these days more than ever before. The main messages of his copious scholarship -- that democracy cannot exist within an Islamic state and that a secular state is not hostile to religious freedom ¿ are the answers that reformers in Africa and the Middle East are desperately seeking as the revolutionary spirit sweeps the Arab world.
As the Muslim population of the United States grows, debates over how Muslims should engage the civil and political life of the U.S. are increasingly common. Too often, however, this conversation focuses on a narrow concept of shari`a that is perceived to be incompatible with, or a threat to, the U.S. constitutional system, or it focuses on assimilation of Muslims to an ¿American¿ way of life. By juxtaposing ¿Americanness¿ and Islam, these conversations assume that American Muslims cannot be faithful to both their religion and their citizenship.
On November 2, 2010, Oklahoma voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent state courts from considering or using Muslim Shari`a law.