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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the scholarly interest in the relationship between constitutions and the Islamic legal tradition. It begins with an overview of constitutional texts and what they say about Islam. It then considers whether the Islamic religion in general, and the shari‘a in particular, lend themselves to constitutionalism. Thereafter, it analyzes how a new generation of scholars from other disciplines have joined those older scholarly efforts. More specifically, it examines the shift in focus of recent scholarship from heavily textual methodologies that prioritize specifically religious and intellectual questions, to more contextualized lines of inquiry that address the legal, institutional, historical, and policy implications of Islamic constitutional development. Finally, it looks at three scholarly debates (ones that have been connected to debates among Muslim political and legal thinkers): the relationship between Islam and constitutional texts; who has interpretive authority in such matters; and where debates take place.

Keywords: constitutions, Islam, shariʽa, constitutionalism, Islamic law, scholars

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