Farrar & Krayem, “Accommodating Muslims under Common Law”

This month, Routledge releases “Accommodating Muslims under Common Law: A Comparative Analysis,” by Salim Farrar (University of Sydney) and Ghena Krayem (University of Sydney).  The publisher’s description follows:

The book explores the relationship between Muslims, the Common Law and Shari’ah post-9/11. The book looks at the accommodation of Shari’ah Law within Western 9780415710466Common Law legal traditions and the role of the judiciary, in particular, in drawing boundaries for secular democratic states with Muslim populations who want resolutions to conflicts that also comply with the dictates of their faith.

Salim Farrar and Ghena Krayem consider the question of recognition of Shari’ah by looking at how the flexibilities that exists in both the Common Law and Shari’ah provide unexplored avenues for navigation and accommodation. The issue is explored in a comparative context across several jurisdictions and case law is examined in the contexts of family law, business and crime from selected jurisdictions with significant Muslim minority populations including: Australia, Canada, England and Wales, and the United States. The book examines how Muslims and the broader community have framed their claims for recognition against a backdrop of terrorism fears, and how Common Law judiciaries have responded within their constitutional and statutory confines and also within the contemporary contexts of demands for equality, neutrality and universal human rights. Acknowledging the inherent pragmatism, flexibility and values of the Common Law, the authors argue that the controversial issue of accommodation of Shari’ah is not necessarily one that requires the establishment of a separate and parallel legal system.

Crimm on Globalization and Domestic Islamic-Socio-Political Activism

Nina J. Crimm’s (St. John’s U.) newest article, What Could Globalization Mean for Domestic Islamic-Socio-Political Activism?, has been published  in the most recent issue of the Fordham International Law Journal. The Article’s Introduction is reprinted below.

In this post-modern era, religion has been experiencing a worldwide transformation. Some see a resurgence of traditional religion, including Islam, evidenced by an increase in renewed religious rituals and practices in countries of varying levels of economic development, political structures, and religious traditions including those of North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Others do not agree entirely. An emphasis on conservative religious beliefs and practices has declined in many industrialized, rich countries, with the United States as one prominent exception. Yet, most analysts appear to agree that developing countries in the Southern regions of the world are increasingly populated by individuals holding conservative religious beliefs. Moreover, “there are more people alive today with traditional religious beliefs than ever before in history, and they’re a larger percentage of the world’s population than they were 20 years ago.” Many think that morality-based values, if not religious precepts (Islamic, Catholic, Protestant), in all parts of the world have become more relevant to, if not a significant influence on, ideological, social, economic, and political issues.

These alterations are tied directly to globalization by which the world is experiencing a “‘historically unique increase of scale to a global interdependency among people and nations’ . . .  Read more

Zaman, “Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age”

One of the most important debates in contemporary Islam concerns the possibility, and desirability, of accommodating classical Islamic law to modernity. A new book by Princeton scholar Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism (Cambridge 2012),  addresses the debate. The publisher’s description follows.

Among traditionally educated scholars in the Islamic world there is much disagreement on the crises that afflict modern Muslim societies and how best to deal with them, and the debates have grown more urgent since 9/11. Through an analysis of the work of Muhammad Rashid Rida and Yusuf al-Qaradawi in the Arab Middle East and a number of scholars belonging to the Deobandi orientation in colonial and contemporary South Asia, this book examines some of the most important issues facing the Muslim world since the late nineteenth century. These include the challenges to the binding Read more

Augustine & Augustine on Religion, Race and the Fourth Estate

Jonathan C. Augustine (United Theological Seminary) and Roslyn Satchel Augustine have posted Religion, Race and the Fourth Estate: Xenophobia in the Media Ten Years after 9/11. The abstract follows.

September 11, 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the most horrific attacks in the United States. In the decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks (9/11), matters of race and religion maintained an awkwardly prominent role in American culture, with the media arguably fueling perceptions. This interdisciplinary Article’s thesis is that media elites, most of which are large corporations, threaten American democracy with xenophobic influence in an age of unmediated communication. Thus, the frequent imagery of “us” versus “them” has exasperated religious tensions between Judeo-Christian faith groups and religious minorities.

In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate media entities are now able to control the news and the newsmaker, with free speech that has become very costly. Indeed, empirical studies and research show that media has misused its trusted status as the proverbial “fourth branch of government,” because of capitalism and consumerism. Moreover, in an effort to increase ratings and associated advertising dollars, media has reinforced stereotypes by marketing and essentially selling fear as part of the War on Terror. The authors seek to prove their thesis by emphasizing the historical significance of the First Amendment’s individual protections, examining deregulation and the media’s profit-making interests, and criticizing the Citizens United decision as creating an inherent conflict of interest for media corporations, considering their proven interest in “selling” news for pecuniary gain.

Aziz on Terror(izing) the Muslim Veil

Sahar F. Aziz (Texas Wesleyan University School of Law) has posted Terror(izing) the Muslim Veil. The abstract follows.

The September 11th terrorist attacks transformed the meaning of the Muslim headscarf. No longer is the crux of the debate whether the “veil” is used to oppress women by controlling their sexuality, and by extension, their personal freedoms and life choices. Rather, a Muslim headscarf “marks” her as a representative of the suspicious, inherently violent, and forever foreign “Terrorist other” in our midst.

In the post-9/11 era, Muslim women donning a headscarf find themselves trapped at the intersection of bias against Islam, the racialized Muslim, and women. In contrast to their male counterparts, Muslim women face unique forms of discrimination not adequately addressed by Muslim civil rights advocacy organizations, women’s rights organizations, or civil liberties Read more

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and Port Authority Settle Lawsuit Over Church at Ground Zero

From the AP: the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have settled a lawsuit regarding the reconstruction of St. Nicholas Church, which stood across the street from the World Trade Center and was destroyed on 9/11. The Archdiocese had filed the suit earlier this year, contesting the Port Authority’s plans to move the church away from its original location, but rebuilding can now commence. Interestingly, the AP article refers to plans to add a nondenominational bereavement center to the church. This seems odd. Was the addition required by the Port Authority (could it have been?) or offered by the Archdiocese? The article doesn’t say. — MLM

Jonathan Sacks on Our Impending Doom

This essay by Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, has been making the rounds. On the occasion of the 9/11 commemorations, Rabbi Sacks meditates on whether the West really is doomed to follow the path of all great civilizations before it to inevitable decline. He’s not hopeful. Like all civilizations that become rich and powerful, he says , the West today has lost its moral cohesion: it has grown secular, self-indulgent and soft. He thinks the only thing that can save the West is a return to covenental politics of the sort advocated by the Abrahamic religions:

It is a peculiarity of the Abrahamic monotheisms that they see, at the heart of society, the idea of covenant. Covenantal politics are politics with a purpose, driven by high ideals, among them the sanctity of life, the dignity of the individual, the rule of justice and compassion, and concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. G.K. Chesterton called America a “nation with the soul of a church.” Britain used to be like that also. In the 1950s there was no television at certain hours on Sunday so as not to deter churchgoing. Sundays helped keep families together, families helped keep communities together, and communities helped keep society together. I, a Jew growing up in a Christian nation, did not feel threatened by this. I felt supported by it – much more than I do now in an ostensibly more tolerant but actually far more abrasive, rude and aggressive society.

What is unique about covenant is its seemingly endless possibility of renewal. It happened in the Bible in the days of Joshua, Josiah and Ezra. It Read more

Excluding Religion from NYC’s 9/11 Commemoration, cont.

A follow-up to last week’s post about excluding clergy from NYC’s official 9/11 commemoration.   The city explained that it was excluding clergy because the event was for victims’ families and there were limits to how many people the city could accommodate.  Some observers, though, believed that the city was in fact trying to avoid the “divisiveness” that clergy-led prayers would create.  Others argued the city’s decision reflected a basic hostility to religion; Mayor Bloomberg lent some credibility to that argument on Friday, when he remarked that a memorial service with prayers and religious leaders would be like the government forcing religion “down people’s throats.”

The commemoration took place yesterday.  Clergy were not present, but prayer and scripture readings were part of the program after all.  In fact, the religious references were even more sectarian than many clergy, who are accustomed to presiding at interfaith services like this, might have provided.  President Obama read Psalm 46, a hymn to “the God of Jacob,” in its entirety.  Former Mayor Giuliani read from Ecclesiastes, explaining that “we need” the perspective that comes from “the words of God” expressed in that book.  (Actually, they’re the words of “the Preacher,” but even so).  Were the President and the former mayor forcing faith on anyone?  The religious references, so much a part of the American tradition at events like these, appeared to cause no disturbance at all.   – MLM

Excluding Clergy from NYC’s 9/11 Commemoration

Next week, New York City will hold its annual commemoration of the 9/11 attacks. As in past years, families of victims and responders will attend, along with local and national politicians. There will be moments of silence and readings of a “spiritual and personal” nature.  But clergy will not participate. The city maintains that this is a quasi-private event for families of victims and responders, not outsiders (except those politicians, of course); that the city cannot invite everyone who wishes to attend; and that clergy have not participated in past years’ ceremonies.

One should respect the families’ wishes, and it’s true that families’ groups, like Families of September 11, apparently do not object to excluding clergy. But this is a public event, the city’s official commemoration. And some people suspect that the real reason New York has excluded clergy is to avoid “divisiveness,” particularly the divisiveness that would ensue if the city invited Muslim clergy to participate.

There are two problems with this. First, notwithstanding the controversy over the “Ground Zero” mosque, it is not at all clear that many New Read more