[Paleopsych] CHE Letters: The Role of Islamic Law

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Fri Apr 8 19:21:02 UTC 2005

CHE Letters: The Role of Islamic Law
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.4.8


   The Role of Islamic Law

    To the Editor:

    In [3]"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. ...

    Irfan Khawaja
    Adjunct Professor of Philosophy
    College of New Jersey
    Ewing, N.J.

    Executive Director
    Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society
    New York

More information about the paleopsych mailing list