Islamic Law and the Challenge of Modernity

  • Published in Law

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Barbara Freyer Stowasser, eds., Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2004. 264 pages.

This book includes eight articles on various aspects of Islamic law in the modern world, as well as an introduction by the two editors. The articles grew out of a symposium held at Georgetown University in 2001 under the title of “Arab Legal Systems in Transition.” Despite the book’s title, however, it deals exclusively with the Arab world. That said, the articles are generally very interesting and, in some cases, provocative. Wael Hallaq’s article is the most provocative, for he suggests that because the traditional socioeconomic infrastructure that supported the Shari`ah as a social institution in the pre-modern world has vanished in the face of the centralized state, the Shari`ah cannot be restored without revolutionary institutional changes in the Arab state that would, at a minimum, give religious scholars the institutional independence to formulate a legitimate vision of Islamic law.

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