Book Review: Islam and Liberal Citizenship: The Search for an Overlapping Consensus
16 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 4, 2011
In his work, "Islam and Liberal Citizenship: The Search for an Overlapping Consensus", Professor Andrew March has provided a rare, much needed, rigorous and admirable foray into a subject on which there has been much discussion, but not much of it very good. There are few who are able to discuss Islam, or political liberalism for that matter, as thoroughly as March, and all of us interested in the subject should be grateful for the contribution he has provided.
Nevertheless, there is a central problem with the approach March has adopted, which divorces doctrine nearly entirely from praxis. Specifically, March rarely discusses the doctrine, and its evolution, with reference to how actual Muslim citizens might approach it. Instead, he directs his inquiry to a different sort of interlocutor, one he creates from the thin air and describes as "the ideal-typical Muslim." The problem in the approach is immediate and obvious: it hardly harmonizes with March's ultimate goal of finding potential grounds for consensus. This is because orthodoxy is determined by the community, and thus attention must be paid, in the end, not to "ideal-typical Muslims" but rather to real ones, from Representative Keith Ellison to Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, and to the respective Muslim sub communities within which they, and countless others like them, play important roles.
Keywords: Islam, Liberalism, Rawls, shari'a
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation