Articles: Islamic Law & Law of the Muslim World eJournal
The following articles from Islamic Law & Law of the Muslim World eJournal(2013), have been published on SSRN:
Islam and the Politics of Secularism in Europe
By Peter O'Brien
Modern secularism, as theorized by prominent liberal philosophers such as John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas, prescribes that the state should treat all religions equally on condition that they and their adherents relinquish their theocratic aspirations and recognize the political sovereignty and superiority of man-made law. Convinced that the secular bargain undermines the moral virtue of society and its members, a small, fragmented, but nevertheless conspicuous number of Islamists in Europe prefers to observe Islamic law in all walks of life, private and public. Alarmed by Islamists and informed by Orientalist readings of Islam, an increasingly vehement and vociferous contingent of Islamophobes avers that Islam is inherently incompatible with democracy and urges European governments to treat neither Islam nor Muslims equally, but rather suspiciously as real or potential threats to the wellbeing of European societies. In contrast, advocates of Euro-Islam insist that Islam can be reformed, like Christianity, to meet the requirements of modern secularism. This paper contends that elements of all three of these vying positions have found their way into policymaking targeting Muslims in several European lands. The resulting inconsistency and contradiction – what I call policy “messiness” – corroborate the process of “mutual fragilization” theorized by Charles Taylor in which actors facing radical value pluralism develop solicitude regarding their own principles as well as greater tolerance for ambivalence. The latter, in particular, creates what Homi Bhabha terms a “third space” from which actors confronting cultural pluralism can freely and constructively explore cross-fertilizations and hybrid combinations with the potential to yield yet unimagined approaches and solutions to the problems of “super-diversity.” Just such creative hybridity does the paper identify among a younger generation of European Muslims whom many observers dub “post-Islamists.”
Governance Feminism's Imperial Misadventure: Progress, International Law, and the Security of Afghan Women
By: Cyra Akila Choudhury
After the September 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent U.S. engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, the question of how to 'help' Muslim women progress towards greater liberty and rights has become a near obsession. A multitude of voices joined the throng of 'experts' on Islam, including conservative Islam-o-phobes, liberal feminists, and elite, western-trained Muslim women themselves relying on their identities to provide credibility to their claims. The plight of Muslim women as victims of their religion and their hyper-patriarchal menfolk has become such common knowledge that it can barely be refuted. There are many obvious reasons as to why Americans have become so intimately familiar with the orientalist stereotypes, the burka and Islamic punishments. They are the most compelling marks of barbarity that have been used to advance a number of different agendas from women’s rights to armed intervention. Liberal feminists in legal academia and practice, particularly governance feminists, have not been silent in this discussion nor have they necessarily drawn a nuanced picture about the situation of women in the War on Terror. In Afghanistan, the construction of women as abject victims has yielded positive results in both garnering international funding and foreign policy response. It seems entirely obvious that 'women’s rights' have to be improved in Afghanistan and that Afghan women have to be helped. However, some of the approaches that have been taken in 'solving' the Afghan women’s problem are troubling for many reasons.
In this chapter, I examine two of these: First, from a theoretical perspective many liberal feminists consider religion and culture as obstacles to achieving women’s equality and rights. They fail to account for the alternative views of flourishing forwarded by many Muslim women who stray from the Liberal script and for whom rights and 'equality' may not be a priority. I explore the linkages between Liberalism’s troubled history with universalism, rights, and progress with Governance Feminism that also shares this history and a desire to use state power to effectuate change. Second, I examine the problems that result from this theoretical position: the reliance on victim subjects that have resulted in fractured transnational alliances and Governance Feminism’s support for international intervention that ignores the victimization of men and its effects on women’s security.