Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?"

Ann Althouse attends a lecture at her university, given by law school colleague Professor Asifa Quraishi, and provides an account.
What I was tackling in my presentation was the roadblock in this issue that I think is presented by the western tendency to think that the sovereign state should be the location of all law for all of society. Once we are able to re-think the location of legal authority in a society, that some can exist as valid and authoritative, yet outside the realm of public lawmaking mechanisms, then I think that we will have gotten much further to coming up with a system of government and lawmaking and adjudication for Muslim societies that can be (but doesn't have to be, frankly I don't care what it looks like, that's up to them) "democratic" but in a very different model than western nation-state democracies.

I don't have any specific proposal on how this would look, and how it would work (that's something for me to work on for the next several years). I'm just saying that the western model is not the only one, and then I try to push that point by showing how the merging of nation-state model with Islamic law pressures from the people and political movements has actually resulted in the worst of both worlds - i.e. theocratic-type authorities despite the fact that neither Islamic heritage, nor the western model would have chosen that on their own.
Well, we know of at least one functioning Middle East democracy where the sovereign state is not the location of all law for all of society. Though that often irks quite a few of the citizens of that country.

But if Professor Asifa Quraishi is looking for models, there is one, not far off.


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