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Islam, Law and the Modern State: (Re)imagining Liberal Theory 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!

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.

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents


  1. The challenge
  2. The structure

iii. The approach

  1. 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


Bibliographic Information

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

ٍAuthor: Arif A. Jamal

Publisher: Routledge

Language: English

Length: 164 pages

ISBN: 978-1138205482

Pub. Date: March 14, 2018

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