Islamic Constitutionalism

Posted: 6 Dec 2007 Last revised: 19 Jul 2010

See all articles by Saïd Amir Arjomand

Saïd Amir Arjomand

State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook


As the first survey of the topic, this review covers Islamic constitutionalism since its emergence a century ago, showing a significant range of historical variation. The first two phases of Islamic constitutionalism are separated by a watershed, the late coming of the age of ideology, which began with the creation of Pakistan in 1947, thus predating the contemporary resurgence of Islam by some two decades. In the first phase, Islam appeared as a limitation to government and legislation, without any presumption that it should be the basis of the constitution itself. In the second phase, Islam came to be considered the basis of the constitution and the state. In the incipient third phase of postideological Islamic constitutionalism, we witness a return to the idea of limited government - this time as the rule of law according to a constitution that is not based on but is inclusive of the principles of Islam as the established religion.

Keywords: comparative constitutionalism, Islamic law, ideology, legal change, Islamic constitutionalism

Suggested Citation

Arjomand, Saïd Amir, Islamic Constitutionalism. Annual Review of Law & Social Science, Vol. 3, December 2007, Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 08-10, Available at SSRN:

Saïd Amir Arjomand (Contact Author)

State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook ( email )

Health Science Center
Stony Brook, NY 11794
United States

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