Decolonial Translation: Destabilizing Coloniality in Secular Translations of Islamic Law

Journal of Islamic Ethics (JIE), Advance Articles

DOI: 10.1163/24685542-12340054

Max Planck Private Law Research Paper No. 21/8

30 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2021

See all articles by Lena Salaymeh

Lena Salaymeh

Oxford School of Global and Area Studies; Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Abstract

Contemporary Islamic legal studies – both inside and outside the Muslim world – commonly relies upon a secular distortion of law. In this article, I use translation as a metonym for secular transformations and, accordingly, I will demonstrate how secular ideology translates the Islamic tradition. A secular translation converts the Islamic tradition into “religion” (the non-secular) and Islamic law into “sharia” – a term intended to represent the English mispronunciation of the Arabic word شريعة (sharīʿah). I explore the differences between historical Islamic terms and secular terms in order to demonstrate that coloniality generates religion and religious law; in turn, these two notions convert شريعة (sharīʿah) into “sharia” in both Arabic and non-Arabic languages. Consequently, the notion of “sharia” is part of a colonial system of meaning.

Note: This article is published in the Max Planck Private Law Research Paper Series thanks to Open Access. It is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. No changes were made to the article. As published in: Journal of Islamic Ethics Advance Articles, DOI: 10.1163/24685542-12340054.

Keywords: Islamic law, comparative law, secular law, decolonial theory, critical theory

Suggested Citation

Salaymeh, Lena, Decolonial Translation: Destabilizing Coloniality in Secular Translations of Islamic Law. Journal of Islamic Ethics (JIE), Advance Articles, DOI: 10.1163/24685542-12340054, Max Planck Private Law Research Paper No. 21/8, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3826425

Lena Salaymeh (Contact Author)

Oxford School of Global and Area Studies ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law ( email )

Mittelweg 187
Hamburg, D-20148
Germany

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