Dream Palaces of Law: Western Constructions of the Muslim Legal World
12 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 4, 2009
Western distortions of the Muslim East nearly always take the same form, irrespective of who in the West is doing the distorting. One common theme can be generally gleaned from any projections of the Muslim East in the West, in any Western country, among nearly every community, including, and perhaps especially, our own academic community. This is the perception of the near ubiquitous role of Islam and, more germane to my remarks, Islamic law, of a historic, medieval kind, in governing the legal order of Muslim states, including Iraq, in a manner that can be entirely distorting. In these brief remarks, I hope first to expose this bias, and then to provide at least rudimentary ideas on how law, both Islamic and secular, in the Muslim world might better be studied and understood, particularly by comparatists.
Keywords: shari'a, Islamic law, Arab law
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