Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law

Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law

Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen

This well-informed book explains, reflects on and analyses Islamic law, not only in the classical legal tradition of Sharia, but also its modern, contemporary context. The book explores the role of Islamic law in secular Western nations and reflects on the legal system of Islam in its classical context as applied in its traditional homeland of the Middle East and also in South East Asia. Written by three leading scholars from three different backgrounds: a Muslim in the Sunni tradition, a Muslim in the Shia tradition, and a non-Muslim woman – the book is not only unique, but also enriched by differing insights into Islamic law.

Chapter 10: Contemporary debates on and within Islam

Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, economics and finance, islamic economics and finance, law - academic, asian law


This chapter reflects on areas of legal contention for Muslims in the modern era. The five issues selected arouse debate not only in Western countries but also in many parts of the Muslim world. At a time when several Muslim nations are undergoing reform arising from what has been called the ‘Arab Spring’ or are wanting to revisit the direction for their nation, as seen in Malaysia and Turkey, there are more competing interpretations of Islam than at any other period of history. Whether it is in elections, protests, campaigns, on-line sites or academic debate, the prospects of new directions, whether modernist, conservative or, textual- ist are the defining feature of the twenty-first century. These contrasting visions were evident in the views presented by the ten Presidential candidates in Egypt’s 2012 elections, as well as in the platforms of the two final candidates for the presidency, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafik, of Mubarak’s military regime. The same breadth of vision is true for other Muslim nations, whether Tunisia, Indonesia or Iraq, and while this gives rise to internal tensions, the plurality of views is evidence of the vibrancy of contemporary Islam. The other contemporary dimension of Islam that is characteristic of the twenty-first century is the migration of Muslims to the West, which has fostered forms of religious and ethnic pluralism within Western countries. As Western societies review ways to better accommodate their Muslim citizens, there are particular issues on which unanimity is far from being achieved.

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