Crescent Chronicles: The Travails of North American Ramadan

Jul 28

Muslim Matters has published a very interesting history of moon sighting in North America, and the context behind the 2006 decision of ISNA and the fiqh committee to adopt astronomical calculation as the basis for determining the beginning and end  of Ramadan.  It also has a special shout out to Toronto, although I’m not sure it is one we should be proud of:

“Toronto is one of the few cities, if not the only, which hosts mosques that simultaneously follow all permutations of moonsighting opinions that have ever existed in Islam’s legal history; local sighting, global, Saudi-sighting, astronomical calculations – perhaps there are more. This represents a trend which has become common occurrence across much of the North America; Muslim communities split along lines of lunar dogmatism.”

Meanwhile, if you need evidence that Muslims are great at making lemonade when life gives them lemons, check out what the article attributes to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on this situation:

“While its easy to have a dismal outlook on this debate, there are positive take a ways from this situation as well. As Shaykh Hamza Yusuf recently pointed out, Muslims arguing over something like moonsighting, which may appear as a trivial matter, is a sign of a serious community of believers. People disagree because they hold their convictions to be true, they care about their religion, and they strive to practice it in the most correct way. In a society where religion is increasingly viewed with an eye of irrelevance, it is refreshing to see a people who care enough about it to disagree over it.”

Well, one might think there are more useful things for us to engage deeply in to evidence the strength of our convictions, but that perhaps that discussion is best left for another day.

‘Id Mubarak to all, but especially for the Gazans.

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Islamic Law in Theory and Practice: Studies on Jurisprudence in Honor of Bernard Weiss

May 18

This book contains a series of studies that emerged from a conference held in the fall of 2008 to honor the career of Bernard Weiss, a pioneering scholar of Islamic jurisprudential theory in the United States.  His most famous book is “The Search for God’s Law,” a magnificent study of the medieval Islamic theological-jurisprudential tradition through the works of the 13th century Ash’ari theologian and jurisprudent, Sayf al-Din al-Amidi. Happily, the book is now out.  Many thanks to Kevin Reinhart and Robert Gleave for their hard work in putting together this book.  Here is a link to my chapter, “Istafti qalbaka wa in aftaka al-nas wa aftuka: the Ethical Obligations of the Muqallid Between Autonomy and Trust.”

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Prospects for Democratization in the Arab World in Light of the Exclusion of Political Islam

May 01

The latest issue of al-Ruwaq al-`Arabi, a journal published by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, is dedicated to the question of the future of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The entire issue (in Arabic) can be downloaded as a pdf from here.

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Due Process in Islamic Law

Jan 28

Did medieval Muslim, specifically Sunni jurists, have a conception of due process?  While they did not have a term that corresponds to what common law lawyers call “due process,” they elaborated numerous procedural and jurisdictional rules that manifest concern with that constellation of values which is associated with due process and, in the terms of US constitutional law, “ordered liberty.”  I am currently finishing up a translation of an important medieval treatise on the powers of various public officials which touches on many of these issues, Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi’s, al-Ihkam fi Tamyiz al-Fatawa ‘an al-Ahkam wa Tasarrufat al-Qadi wa-l-Imam.  I have pasted below a particularly interesting discussion on the question of when it is permissible for an individual to determine, unilaterally, whether sufficient legal cause exists to exercise some legal right or privilege, and when that legal right or privilege cannot be exercised without a prior judicial determination that exercise of the right in question is legally justified (Question no. 32 from that book).  Any comments or questions would be appreciated.

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Ian Shapiro and “Power-Based Resourcism”

Dec 01

I just finished reading a recent article of the Yale Political Science Professor, Ian Shapiro, “On Non-Domination,” in which he contrasts his view of “power-based resourcism” and non-domination as the bedrock of justice to egalitarian and libertarian conceptions of justice. 

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Judicial Institutions, Islamic State Law and Democratic Transition in Egypt

Sep 26

My latest piece in the International Journal of Constitutional Law on the relationship of legal culture to the legitimacy of the project of modern Islamic law and its role in assisting in a successful democratic transition has now been published.

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