This November, Tauris Academic Studies will publish Muslim Minorities and Citizenship: Authority, Communities and Islamic Law by Sean Oliver-Dee (Associate Research Fellow, London School of Theology). The publisher’s description follows.
The issues of citizenship, identity, and cohesion have rarely been as vital as they are today. Since the events of 9/11 and subsequent terrorist episodes in Bali, Madrid, London, and elsewhere, focus in this area has centered primarily upon Muslim minority communities living in the West. This book examines the question of citizenship and loyalty, drawing on the historical contexts of Muslim minorities living under British and French imperial rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and looks at how shari’a functioned within the context of imperial civil code. It draws important comparisons that are of immense relevance today, and engages with current debates about the compatibility of Islamic law with civil law in non-Islamic societies. Engaging with both Muslim minority and government perspectives, this is important reading for scholars, students, commentators, and policy-makers concerned with the question of Western engagement with its own minorities.
Jay Michaelson (Ph.D. student at Hebrew University) has posted Hating the Law for Christian Reasons: The Religious Roots of American Antinomianism. The abstract follows.
Popular American law-talk is a religious discourse. While Americans routinely valorize the “rule of law” and “common sense,” they express hatred for lawyers and laws, which are supposedly drowning our country in a sea of regulation and litigation. What explains this curious ambivalence is a Protestant ethic, beginning with the Apostle Paul, who, in an explicit rejoinder against Judaism, denied that the law (which governs the body) is a path to salvation (which is a matter of the soul). The result is a philosophy of “law without laws,” a religious antinomianism that has shaped, explicitly and implicitly, such disparate phenomena as the jury system, debates over the common law, and contemporary jeremiads about litigation and regulation.
This article, forthcoming in the anthology “Jews and the Law,” edited by Suzanne Last Stone and Ari Mermelstein, traces this American antinomianism in secular and religious sources. It begins by analyzing three different moments in American popular legal history: the Clinton impeachment, the debates surrounding the adoption of the English common law in the early republic, and discourse about the value of the jury from the Colonial period. The paper then turns to the religious sources, chiefly Paul’s letters to the Romans and Corinthians, and later texts by Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther. It concludes by observing that the contemporary American mistrust of law is not a secular, civic, or jurisprudential ideology but a deep, religious conviction.