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Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a

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  • Format: Book
  • Published: 2008, Harvard University Press
  • ISBN: 0674027760
  • 336 pages
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What should be the place of Shari‘a—Islamic religious law—in predominantly Muslim societies of the world? In this ambitious and topical book, a Muslim scholar and human rights activist envisions a positive and sustainable role for Shari‘a, based on a profound rethinking of the relationship between religion and the secular state in all societies.

An-Na‘im argues that the coercive enforcement of Shari‘a by the state betrays the Qur’an’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, Shari‘a should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Na‘im maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce Shari‘a. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not Shari‘a or the Islamic tradition.

Bold, pragmatic, and deeply rooted in Islamic history and theology, and the Secular State offers a workable future for the place of Shari‘a in Muslim societies.  The volume was released in Arabic in 2010 by Merit Publishing, Cairo, Egypt and also is being prepared for translation and publication in Bahasa, Bengali, Persian, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu.

About the Author: Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im (from Sudan) is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na'im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics. Professor An-Na'im directed the following research projects which focus on advocacy strategies for reform through internal cultural transformation:

Women and Land in Africa
Islamic Family Law
Fellowship Program in Islam and Human Rights
The Future of Sharia: Islam and the Secular State
The websites for these projects can be accessed through Professor An-Na'im's personal homepage at law.emory.edu/aannaim »

Professor An-Na'im's current research projects include a study of Muslims and the secular state, and of human rightsfrom state-centric to people-centered. He continues to further develop his theory of Islam and the Secular State (Harvard University Press, 2008), also published in Arabic and Indonesian. Translations of this manuscript in Bengali, Persian, Urdu, Bengali, Turkish and Russian, are available for download free of charge at sharia.law.emory.edu »

Education: PhD (Law), University of Edinburgh (Scotland), 1976; LLB (Honours) and Diploma in Criminology, University of Cambridge (England), 1973; LLB (Honours), University of Khartoum (Sudan), 1970

 

Selected Publications by This Author



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