Call for Papers: ReligioWest Project

The ReligioWest Project at the European University Institute (EUI) has issued a call for submissions for its Working Paper Series. Among the topics suggested: “Religious practices in Europe and USA (including religious affiliations, religious practices,building of new worship places, recruitment of clerics, conversions)”; “Court decisions on cases involving religion in Europe and North America (legal doctrines, common trends, definition of religion)”; and “Relationship between religions and secular law (interventions of religious groups in the public sphere, religious lobbying).” For details, please click here.

Hascall on Restorative Justice in Islam

Susan C. Hascall (Duquesne U. School of Law) has posted Restorative Justice in Islam: Should Qisas be Considered a Form of Restorative Justice?  The abstract follows.

The restorative justice movement challenges conventional approaches to sentencing and punishment by involving the victim, community, and perpetrator in sentencing. The movement is characterized by an emphasis on the restoration of relationships, healing and rehabilitation. Like the restorative justice movement, Islamic law embraces a conception of justice that involves healing relationships. Shari’ah, the religious law of Islam, is based on Islamic teachings on justice and divine revelation. In classical Shari’ah jurisprudence, crimes are divided into several categories, which do not easily correspond to the categories defined in modern Western law. One of these categories, the crimes of qisas, is distinctive in that it gives the victim and his/her family final decision making power in punishment for physical wounding and murder. Although the victim(s) may choose retaliation in kind, payment, or forgiveness, emphasis is placed on the latter. This paper explores whether (1) qisas is a form of restorative justice (2) whether restorative justice adherents should examine the qisas processes for inspiration or methodology.

This paper begins by discussing the ideology behind the restorative justice movement and then proceeds to describe the classical Islamic law of qisas. Subsequently, examples of modern codes incorporating the law of qisas are provided. One of these exemplars highlighted within the text, particularly demonstrative of the abovementioned amalgamation, is northern Nigeria. The article concludes by emphasizing that, irrespective of the option for retaliation in kind, enough similarities and goals in the approaches of classical qisas jurisprudence, as exemplified in the modern codes of northern Nigeria, restorative justice scholars should examine qisas. There is also a calling for further field research on the processes of qisas in modern Shari’ah-based criminal jurisprudence.

Rivers on the Secularization of the British Constitution

Julian Rivers (U. of Bristol Law School) has posted The Secularisation of the British Constitution. The abstract follows.

In recent years, the relationship between law and religion has been subject to increased scholarly interest. In part this is the result of new laws protecting religious liberty and non-discrimination, and it may be that overall levels of litigation have increased as well. In all this activity, there are signs that the relationship between law and religion is changing. While unable to address every matter of detail, this article seeks to identify the underlying themes and trends. It starts by suggesting that the constitutional settlement achieved by the end of the nineteenth century has often been overlooked, religion only appearing in the guise of inadequately theorised commitments to individual liberty and equality. The article then considers the role of multiculturalism in promoting recent legal changes. However, the new commitment to multiculturalism cannot explain a number of features of the law: the minimal impact of the Human Rights Act 1998, the uncertain effect of equality legislation, an apparent rise in litigation in established areas of law and religion, and some striking cases in which acts have been found to be unlawful in surprising ways. In contrast, the article proposes a new secularisation thesis. The law is coming to treat religions as merely recreational and trivial. This has the effect of reducing the significance of religion as a matter of conscience, as legal system and as a context for public service. As a way of managing the ever-deepening forms of religious diversity present within the United Kingdom, such a secularisation strategy is implausible.