[Paleopsych] CHE Letters: The Role of Islamic Law
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Fri Apr 8 19:21:02 UTC 2005
CHE Letters: The Role of Islamic Law
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.4.8
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The Role of Islamic Law
To the Editor:
In "Who Owns Islamic Law?" (The Chronicle, February 25), David
Glenn writes: "For outsiders, it is tempting to caricature this debate
as a contest between Taliban-style radicals and Western-style
liberals. ... But the terrain is actually far more complex than that.
There are dozens of strains of traditionalist and liberal thought in
the Muslim world, each looking toward different conceptions of Shariah
and drawing on different elements of Islamic history and
Entirely missing from this account is the point that many insiders in
the so-called "Muslim world" regard Islamic law as a pointless,
archaic, and oppressive irrelevance. From this perspective, the debate
between competing schools of Islamic jurisprudence is a disingenuous
exercise that evades fundamental issues. Why, exactly, are we obliged
to take orders from a coercive ultimatum giver in the heavens? And why
are we obliged to take seriously those who insist that we must do so?
Neither question comes up in Mr. Glenn's article, even by implication.
The assumption is simply that Muslims must be governed by some variant
of Islamic law; the question is which one. In compliance with this
axiom, Mr. Glenn's interlocutors reserve criticism not for their
preposterous metaphysical constructions, but for secularism: The
"difficulty," we are airily told, is that "secularism" has been
"thoroughly discredited in the Muslim world." A curious claim. ...
The question is not "who owns Islamic law?" The question is whether
Islamic law owns us. ...
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy
College of New Jersey
Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society
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