About Islam, Law and Modernity
Throughout the Muslim World, there are calls for re-Islamisation of the legal systems, either for the strict application of the Shari'ah in its traditional form based on imitation (taqlid), or for a return to the roots or the principles of the Shari'ah (Maqasid al-Shari'ah), a re-opening of the door to independent reasoning (ijtihad), or even for a move towards the practice of Islam in a secular state or a combination of some of these - yet even amongst Islamic scholars there is no agreement on the path to be taken. Such disagreements are exacerbated by the differences in interpreting primary sources of law between the Shi'a and Sunni schools of thought. At the same time, one can notice that some Arab and Muslim States have taken steps that have resulted in a certain rapprochement of Islamic and secular principles. The recently enacted constitutions of States such as Iraq and Afghanistan, countries that have in recent history come under the influence of Western law-makers and policies, contain provisions which, on the one hand, declare the Shari'ah to be the highest source of the law of the land, while at the same time subscribing to the ideals of democracy. Many Muslim countries to this day have laws and justice systems based to a large extent on post-colonial and in fact secularised models left behind by the colonial powers and adopted by the former colonies. Arab States are engaged in international relations which are in fact dominated by Western thinking. Many Muslims live in Western countries where they enjoy and actively exercise the rights and freedoms granted under their laws. Globalisation will result in greater interaction between societies and different spheres of law. Such globalisation-influenced processes are not uniform in the Islamic world, however, as alongside liberalisation in some countries, radicalisation and more literal interpretation of Islam occurs in others, who feel threatened by Western interference. There are also prevalent cultural distortions between various Islamic countries that may inhibit their ability to act uniformly, such as, for example, the controversial concept of temporary marriage. All of these issues have recently been thrown into much sharper relief by events in the Middle East since 2010. ILM will engage across multiple disciplines whilst retaining its core focus on legal aspects in relation to all of the above-mentioned issues, providing a forum for open exchange and debate as well as joint research to move the conversation forward.