Kendhammer, “Muslims Talking Politics”

In June, the University of Chicago Press will release “Muslims Talking Politics: Framing Islam, Democracy, and Law in Northern Nigeria,” by Brandon Kendhammer (Ohio University).  The publisher’s description follows:

For generations Islamic and Western intellectuals and policymakers have debated Islam’s compatibility with democratic government, usually with few solid conclusions.upso_ucplogo But where—Brandon Kendhammer asks in this book—have the voices of ordinary, working-class Muslims been in this conversation? Doesn’t the fate of democracy rest in their hands? Visiting with community members in northern Nigeria, he tells the complex story of the stunning return of democracy to a country that has also embraced Shariah law and endured the radical religious terrorism of Boko Haram.

Kendhammer argues that despite Nigeria’s struggles with jihadist insurgency, its recent history is really one of tenuous and fragile reconciliation between mass democratic aspirations and concerted popular efforts to preserve Islamic values in government and law. Combining an innovative analysis of Nigeria’s Islamic and political history with visits to the living rooms of working families, he sketches how this reconciliation has been constructed in the conversations, debates, and everyday experiences of Nigerian Muslims. In doing so, he uncovers valuable new lessons—ones rooted in the real politics of ordinary life—for how democracy might work alongside the legal recognition of Islamic values, a question that extends far beyond Nigeria and into the Muslim world at large.

Discussion: “Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise” (March 23)

The Hudson Institute will host a discussion, “Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise,”  in Washington, D.C. on March 23, 2015.  The panel will feature Nina Shea (Hudson Institute), Bukky Shonibare (Adopt-A-Camp, Nigeria), and Emmanuel Ogebe (Washington Working Group on Nigeria).

Boko Haram swore fealty to the Islamic State earlier this month. The Nigerian Islamist terrorist organization, infamous for the abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls last April, has a long record of violent atrocities. Recently, it has increased attacks on marketplaces and public spaces, indiscriminately murdering moderate Muslims and Christians alike. How will this new affiliation impact the operations and reach of Boko Haram?

To assess the humanitarian situation in Nigeria and the global security implications of an alliance between two of the world’s deadliest terror groups, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom Director Nina Shea will host a discussion with Bukky Shonibare and Emmanuel Ogebe. Bukky Shonibare is a strategic team member of the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign and the coordinator of Adopt-A-Camp, a program that assists internally displaced persons in Nigeria. She will provide her firsthand account of conditions on the ground. Emmanuel Ogebe, a human rights lawyer from Nigeria, will evaluate the broad impact of the new alliance between Boko Haram and the Islamic State.

Details of the event can be found here.

Izunwa & Ifemeje on Right to Life, Abortion and the Principle of Double-Effect

Maurice Okechukwu Izunwa and Sylvia Ifemeje (both from Nnamdi Azikiwe U., Awka) has posted Right to Life and Abortion Debate in Nigeria: A Case for the Legislation of the Principle of Double-Effect. The abstract follows.

The controversy as to whether abortion on demand will be legalized in Nigeria has been long and protracted. This is not unconnected with the fact that the issues that border on life are always sensitive for society and all the more for the legislature and the Courts. Notwithstanding the comparatively conservative status of law on abortion in Nigeria, arguments from differential fields of knowledge relating to the amendment of the law as it is, are far reaching. A great many insist that all forms of willful abortion should be criminalized. In this school of thought, we find the Catholic Church at the baseline. Nevertheless, the leftist pro-choice school defends the opinion that it is only fair and just that a woman should be left to decide in such a grave matter about her life and health. This essay makes an ethical detour in differential arguments as a necessary prerequisite for the much needed legal mediation of the rival camps. It proposes the legislation of the “principle of double effect” as the legal middle course.

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.

Sisk, “Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking”

This November, Georgetown University Press will publish Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking edited by Timothy D. Sisk (University of Denver). The publisher’s description follows.

Civil war and conflict within countries is the most prevalent threat to peace and security in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. A pivotal factor in the escalation of tensions to open conflict is the role of elites in exacerbating tensions along identity lines by giving the ideological justification, moral reasoning, and call to violence. Between Terror and Tolerance examines the varied roles of religious leaders in societies deeply divided by ethnic, racial, or religious conflict. The chapters in this book explore cases when religious leaders have justified or catalyzed violence along identity lines, and other instances when religious elites have played a critical role in easing tensions or even laying the foundation for peace and reconciliation.

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An-Na’im on Religious Norms and Family Law

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (Emory U. School of Law) has posted Religious Norms and Family Law: Is it Legal or Normative Pluralism? The abstract follows.

The core question for this Symposium issue of the Emory International
Law Review is how to mediate the tension between democratic demands for the application of religious norms and human rights concerns, especially
regarding the rights of women and children. Such demands tend to be more
intensely asserted in family matters, perhaps because of the intimacy of family relations and the central role of the family as a marker of identity and agent of children’s socialization. Tensions among the competing bases of public policy and legislation tend to come in sharper focus in pluralistic societies because of the multiplicity of exclusive claims of religious truth and visions of the public good. While using the topic of Sharia in Nigeria as a primary case study, this Symposium also includes discussions of broader theoretical and globally comparative perspectives on the mediation of competing normative claims.

The mediation of such controversies and tensions will continue to be the
primary function of politics in every society, where disputes are routinely
mediated through compromise and accommodation. That politics of mediation includes the possibility of coercive adjudication before state courts when voluntary compliance fails to work. Indeed, the peace, stability, and well-being of every society depend on its ability to mediate and adjudicate such disputes in a peaceful and orderly manner. The more the proponents of each side in a dispute perceive their position as open to negotiation and compromise, the better the prospects for political stability and social justice. This is unlikely to be the case, however, where people believe their positions to be immutable because they are ordained or mandated by God or, in the case of a customary norm, because they are part of the irreducible core of their culture. Continue reading

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