This article examines the category of gender as it is employed in the study of Islamic law. It first considers how gender scholars turned to legal practice and challenged orientalist narratives using a social historical approach. It then analyses feminist critique of legal discourse, focusing on scholarship that addresses the development of pre-modern substantive law (fiqh) and legal theory, as well as the gendered construction of legal subjecthood. It also discusses three different modes of feminist engagements with Islamic law that developed from the 1990s onwards. The first approach develops a narrative about the patriarchal nature of Islamic law and the increasing decline of women’s rights throughout Islamic history. The second approach takes a constructive approach to Islamic law and the third approach interrogates the foundational assumptions and internal logic of substantive law.
Anver M. Emon
This article examines the production and analysis of fiqh by surveying Islamic legal scholarship. It highlights the implications different analytic approaches bring to the study of fiqh as both doctrine and literary genre. Starting with an overview of debates about legal reform in the context of “modernity,” the article proceeds to an analysis of philology as a disciplinary frame and its limits. The article then turns to studies of philology in conversation with history and the perceived demise of philology in the British and North American academy. Thereafter, the article explores fiqh as a genre Fiqh of legal literature that informs interpretive approaches in the social sciences, including the literature on Islamic law and anthropology and the fatwa as a site of legal practice in contrast to fiqh. Finally, it looks at fiqh as the object of critique and offers suggestions for future research.
Building on Pocock’s influential account, this essay investigates Greek and Roman citizenship as a resource for the critical analysis of contemporary theory and ideology – in particular, the models of citizenship based on “neo-Roman” and liberal democratic ideals. On the one hand, a reconsideration of Roman theory and practice reveals the undesirable features fossilized in the Roman and “neo-Roman” tradition. The rule of law disguised the workings of unaccountable elite power; non-domination was idealized only because domination was so pervasive, beginning with the freedom/slavery dichotomy; and citizenship was often nothing more than a civil religion. Conversely, re-examining classical Greek theory and practice enables us to grasp the ethical and dialogical possibilities of citizenship that our liberal democratic models typically neglect. Hence, instead of limiting themselves to advising statesmen in specific times and places, political theorists should think more freely and broadly about our highest aspirations as citizens.