Khan, “Islamic Banking in Pakistan”

In November, Routledge will release “Islamic Banking in Pakistan: Shariah-Compliant Finance and the Quest to make Pakistan more Islamic” by Feisal Khan (Hobart and William Smith Colleges). The publisher’s description follows:

Islamic Banking and Finance (IBF) has become a growing force over the past three decades, with Pakistan being one of the IBF pioneers by converting to an ‘interest-free’ banking system in 1985. However, since independence in 1947, there has been continual tension over Pakistan’s essential character, between Islamic Minimalists, who favour a Modernist interpretation of Islam, and those who favour an Islamic Maximalist interpretation that sees Pakistan as a model Islamic state.

This book analyses the push to Islamize Pakistan and its financial system by Islamic revivalists, following the early 1947 debates in the original Constituent Assembly to the final 2002 ruling on IBF of the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court. It examines the practice and theory behind contemporary Islamic, “Shariah-compliant”, banking. It offers extensive interviews with Pakistani Islamic bankers on the state of their industry and how they see it developing, and provides analysis on how the Islamic banks’ customers differ from those of conventional ones.

Presenting a critical analysis of Pakistan’s IBF experience and offering a new insight into Pakistan’s banking industry that illustrates broader political and social trends in the country, this book will be of interest to specialists on Islam, South Asia and International Economics.

Sharia’h and the Exploitation of Natural Resources

Via Professor Howard FriedmanNima Mersadi Tabari, Ph.D. candidate at the University of London’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, has timely posted The Sharia’h Dimension of the Persian Gulf’s Hydrocarbon Resources.  Tabari illustrates how Islamic law governs extraction of Middle Eastern oil, financing oil operations, and sale of this indispensable and all consuming resource.  Such a study promises to illuminate the originating motives of the global oil politics that permeate American domestic policy (consider the congressional Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling dispute, which remains active after decades [NYT, Feb. 3]) and its foreign concerns (the Iranian threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, and naval buildup there, is a frightening tinderbox [NYT, Feb. 13].  Please find Tabari’s abstract after the jump. Read more

MacFarlane on Islamic Divorce

From Oxford University Press, a new book by Julie MacFarlane (Windsor Law – University of Windsor), Islamic Divorce in North America: A Shari’a Path in a Secular Society (forthcoming April 2012). The publisher’s description follows. 

Policy-makers and the public are increasingly attentive to the role oshari’a in the everyday lives of Western Muslims, with negative associations and public fears growing among their non-Muslim neighbors in the United States and Canada. The most common way North American Muslims relate to shari’a is in their observance of Muslim marriage and divorce rituals; recourse to traditional Islamic marriage and, to a lesser extent, divorce is widespread. Julie Macfarlane has conducted hundreds of interviews with Muslim couples, as well as with religious and community leaders and family conflict professionals. Her book describes how Muslim marriage and divorce processes are used in North America, and what they mean to those who embrace them as a part of their religious and cultural identity. The picture that emerges is of an idiosyncratic private ordering system that reflects a wide range of attitudes towards contemporary family values and changes in gender roles. Some women describe pervasive assumptions about restrictions on their role in the family system, as well as pressure to accept these values and to stay married. Others of both genders describe the gradual modernization of Islamic family traditions – and the subsequent emergence of a Western shari’a–but a continuing commitment to the rituals of Muslim marriage and divorce in their private lives. Readers will be challenged to consider how the secular state should respond in order to find a balance between state commitment to universal norms and formal equality, and the protection of religious freedom expressed in private religious and cultural practices.

Hussein on Legal Reform and Women’s Rights in Yemen

Douaa Hussein  (American U. in Cairo – Dept. of Law) has posted Legal Reform as a Way to Women’s Rights: The Case of Personal Status Law in Yemen. The abstract follows.

In this paper, the researcher argues that the legal reform of the Personal Status Law is not sufficient to ensure gender equality within the Yemeni context where the religious and cultural value systems of rights remain untouched. Narrow and conservative interpretation of sharia forms the main conceptualization of the rights in the current law. The tribal value system and conceptualization of rights and its practices on the ground has affected the equitable marital rights. The researcher further claims that the current law which is premised mainly on sharia, consolidates the concept of ‘Wrong Rights’, obstructing women’s efforts to ensure equality in the Personal Status Law. Read more

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. Read more

Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Oklahoma Anti-Sharia Amendment

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed a preliminary injunction against an Oklahoma constitutional amendment forbidding consideration of Sharia by its state courts.  The amendment forbade Oklahoma courts from considering international law, the legal precepts of other nations and cultures, and, expressly, Islamic Sharia.  The amendment did not expressly forbid consideration of any other religion’s legal precepts and, thus, the Tenth Circuit determined it violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause because it constituted a government’s disfavoring one religion against others.  See Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228 (1982).  The plaintiff had directed in his will that his estate be probated according to Sharia, a directive that would be unenforceable under the amendment.  The Tenth Circuit did not credit Oklahoma’s argument that the amendment forbade considering all religious law:  Based on the amendment’s text, the court determined that it singled out Islam because, again, the amendment expressly mentioned Sharia only.  On remand, the district court must consider whether to make its preliminary injunction permanent.  Read the case, Awad v. Ziriax, No. 10-6273, 2012 WL 50636 (10th Cir. Jan. 10, 2012), here.  (Note that the provision was jingoistically entitled the “Save our State” amendment.)