JJUA55080U Comparative Public Law in an Islamic Context - NOTE: Cancelled in the spring semester 2016
This course provides a thorough survey of the constitutional
systems across the Muslim world in the modern period. Spanning all
Muslim-majority states from Morocco to Indonesia, we will explore
the transmission of institutional forms and constitutional ideas,
examine the diversity of constitutional arrangements, evaluate how
effective these arrangements are, and what role religious law plays
in the different jurisdictions.
Since 2009 there has been a renewed wave of popular unrest sweeping throughout much of the Muslim world. Secular, but generally repressive and inefficient autocracies have come under pressure or been swept aside entirely. At the same time, the various Islamic Republics have not fared much better, but have been convulsed by internal unrest, economic and social decline.
Throughout the Muslim lands, existing constitutional arrangements are being challenged, often very violently. After this course you will be able to comprehend what the substantial content of these disputes is, who the main political and institutional actors are, how to account for startling degrees of violence, and why law plays such a prominent role.
This course has no formal academic prerequisites and no knowledge of Oriental languages is necessary. All literature will be in English and made available through Absalon. Jargon is generally avoided and necessary technical terminology will be explained in class. The focus of our readings and discussions lies on the modern period after 1798 – Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign.
We will therefore look at the large body of classical writings on Islamic governance only in so far as they are necessary to understand the contemporary debate, but instead concentrate on the legal and political developments of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Three common themes will characterise the
• We privilege the study of the legal and social reality and seek to highlight where it is at odds with dogmatic stipulations, be they religious or constitutional
• We seek to illustrate the practical tensions posed by limited administrative capabilities and political legitimacy that resulted from the incomplete reception of modern bureaucratic statehood, especially those affecting the rule of law
• We seek to examine how popular dissatisfaction with the practical performance of Muslim governments has fuelled demands for greater accountability, with a particular attention to the role of the judiciary and the use of often religious law as a ‘language of justice’ under the guise of cultural authenticity.
Ultimately, the course aims to equip participants to better understand Muslim contemporary discourse about the res publica, better contextualise the demands for religious law in public life, and to better ascertain the theoretical and practical feasibility of postulated religious alternatives to the still-dominant secular model of governance. The course covers each week one sub-region centred on a particularly important country, highlighting the distinct approaches towards incorporating modern state institutions.
The Challenge of Modernity
Session 1: Early Modern History of the Region
Session 2: Four Models of Adaptation
Week 2: Secularism: Turkey
Session 3: Ottoman Legal Reform: Tanzimat and Majallah
Session 4: Kemalism and its Discontents
Week 3:Religious Modernism: North Africa
Session 5: Egypt and Japan: Contrasting Legal Reform
Session 6: Morocco and Tunisia: Constitutional and Personal Status Reform
Week 4: Traditionalism: The Gulf Monarchies
Session 7: Saudi Arabia: Patrimonial Law
Session 8: Rents and Religion: Traditional Law and Extractive Economics
Week 5: Fundamentalism: Iran
Session 9: Roots and Results of Revolutionary: Constitutional Contradictions
Session 10: Challenging the status quo: Between Extremism and Pragmatism
Week 6: Fragmentation and Chaos: The
Session 11: Republics of Fear: Authoritarian Bargains and their Constitutions
Session 12: Consociationalism: Investiture of Order in Fractioned Societies
Week 7:Jihadi Gangsters: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh
Session 13: Garrison or Failed State? Common Law and Common Sense
Session 14: Legal Archaeology: The Palimpsest of Afghan Law
Week 8:Liminal Successes: Malaysia and Indonesia
Session 15: Colonial Constitutions and the Use of Emergency Law
Session 16: Pluralist Transitions: Decentralisation, Federalism and Democracy
Week 9: Failure to Form: Sub-Saharan Africa
Session 17: Intangible Wealth and the Importance of Administrative Law
Session 18: African Awakening: Weak Institutions and Constitutional Responses
Week 10: Thrown into the Void: Post-Soviet Central Asia
Session 19: State Collapse and Authoritarianism: Secular Legacies and Religious Visions
Session 20: Constitutional Rhetoric and Legal Realities
Week 11: Minority Regimes: India and Europe
Session 21: Indian Muslims: Personal Status Laws and Political Engagement
Session 22: Euroislam: Uneasy Constitutional Accommodations
Week 12: Conclusions and Outlook
Session 23: Contending Visions on Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression
Session 24: Review
At the successful completion of the course, students will have obtained the following learning objectives:
Knowledge Students will:
• Know the basic contours of the colonial history of present-day Muslim states
• Know the divergent administrative and legal paths that led to different state traditions
• Know the four basic responses to modernity in the Islamic world
• Know the main ideological movements and their respective positions on public law
• Know the main differences between sacred and bureaucratic law
• Know the basic functions of government in the modern international system
• Know how to decipher constitutional provisions and relate them to the functional division of administrative labour
• Know the difference between dogmatic ideal, whether religious or constitutional, and legal reality.
Skills Studentswill have learned to:
• Read basic macro-economic, social, and governance indicators
• Evaluate the relative performance of administrative and political systems
• Assess the importance of legal systems for economic performance and political stability
• Identify legal and administrative shortcomings and link them to popular dissatisfaction
• Assess the feasibility of competing ideological governance programmes
• Carry out independent interdisciplinary research
• Communicate academic findings to an interdisciplinary audience
• Distinguish between dogmatic ideal and practical reality
• Analyse complex socio-political phenomena in current events
• Synthetize their public law implications
• Communicate these effectively.
Competencies: Students will be able to
• Conduct independent interdisciplinary research
• Critically examine the validity and reliability of scientific data
• Disaggregate complex phenomena in the Islamic world
• Question explanatory hypotheses relating to that area
• Identify independent and intervening variables in explanatory theories describing it
• Distinguish legal from related argumentation
• Critically assess claims about cultural and legal immutability.
Students are expected to complete all requirements outlined for
the online component of the course, in particular the weekly
quizzes, the two short, peer-graded essays, and the relatively
modest reading requirements outlined there (ca. 200 pages). In
addition, students will be provided with weekly readings of
approximately 500 pages, drawn primarily from Otto 2010 and Grote
& Röder 2012 below. No dedicated textbook is prescribed for
this course (or, indeed, exists), but those new to the field might
find it worth their while to complement the assigned readings with
independent background readings, including from:
Malcolm Yapp, The Making of the Modern Near East, 1792-1923, Vol. 1 (London: Longman, 1987).
Malcolm Yapp, The Near East Since the First World War: A History
to 1995, Vol. 2 (London: Longman, 1996).
Sami Zubaida, Law and Power in the Islamic World (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005).
Jan Michiel Otto (ed.), Sharia Incorporated. A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2010).
Rainer Grote and Tilmann Röder (eds.),Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
Albert Habib Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (London: Faber and Faber, 2005).
Nathan J. Brown, Constitutions in a Nonconstitutional World.
Arab Basic Laws and the Prospects for Accountable Government
(Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2002).
Hamid Enayat, Modern Islamic Political Thought: The Response of the Shi’i and the Sunni Muslims to the Twentieth Century (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005).
interpretations. The course will, thus, consist of both the online component and twice weekly class sessions. The online part consists of 7-8 relatively short lectures per week offered as downloadable videos (each 15-55 min), each of which will be followed by a short exercise in which participants can test their grasp of the new material. The exercises will combine multiple-choice with essay-type questions.
Participants are therefore expected to prepare the assigned readings prior to each week’s sessions. The readings will clearly differentiate between those of central and peripheral importance.
Provisions on form requirements can be found in the exam catalogue on the online Study Pages.
- 15 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Written examination, 3 daysAssigned individual written assignment, 3 days (friday-monday)
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
- Exam period
Exam date: December 11 - December 14, 2015
Spring: June 6 - 10, 2016 (preliminary dates)
Criteria for exam assesment
This course will be assessed by a written three day take-home, open book exam. Students will have to answer two questions out of six, thus accommodating to some degree personal preferences. The exam is aimed to motivate a renewed thorough engagement with the course material and to cement the retention of the stated learning outcomes, which will guide grading. Special attention should be given to the testable criteria listed in the goal description above under the heading 'Competencies'.