42nd Conference 2013

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CALL FOR PAPERS


North American Association of Islamic and
Muslim Studies (NAAIMS)

[Formerly the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America (AMSS)]

Presents
42nd Annual Conference


“Constitutions and Islam”

Cosponsored By:
Department of Near Eastern Studies
&
Program of Near Eastern Studies
Princeton University, NJ
Saturday, September 28, 2013

Deadlines:
Abstracts: May 21, 2013
Papers: August 23, 2013

The rise of Islamist parties and politics in the aftermath of the Arab Spring has brought new attention to the issue of Shari’a, and its relevance to governance. And while this attention has focused on how Islamist parties intend to implement provisions in new constitutions in which Shari’a is specified as a source, the issue itself has many precedents. This conference will seek to broaden the scope of debates about recent developments by soliciting papers which address the role of Shari’a not only in the regimes that have emerged post-Arab Spring, but also in other areas and the West.

We invite a diverse range of papers from scholars in the humanities and social sciences that address the following sub-themes:
  • Shari’a and the State in Islamic History
  • Shari’a as Constitution in Iran and Saudi Arabia
  • Constitutional Debates in Turkey
  • Shari’a and the Arab Spring: Defining the Revolution in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen
  • The Maqasid Debate and the Role of al-Azhar in Egypt
  • Women in the Shari’a State: Constitutional Debates and Women in Tunisia and Egypt
  • Shari’a Activism in Southeast Asia: Civil Society Islamism in Indonesia and Malaysia
  • Islamophobia and Shari’a in the West: Sharia Law in Canada and Europe
  • Shari’a Militancy in West and East Africa: al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Ansar el-Din in Mali
  • Shari’a and Sectarianism in South Asia: Sunni Shi’i Relations in Pakistan
  • Shari’a and the Opposition in Central Asia: Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics
Abstracts (250 words) are due by May 15, 2013. Abstracts will be evaluated according to the following categories: originality of theme, clear methodology, clarity and relevance of the proposal to the conference theme, and sound academic scholarship. Final papers must be submitted by August 23, 2013.

Program Chair:
Prof. Sukru Hanioglu (Princeton University)

Send abstracts and final papers to Director of Academic Affairs, Layla Sein, at conferences@amss.org





Conference Program


North American Association of Islamic
and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS)


[Formerly the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America (AMSS)]

Presents
42nd Annual Conference

“Constitutions and Islam”

Cosponsored By:
Department of Near Eastern Studies
&
Program in Near Eastern Studies
Princeton University, NJ
Saturday, September 28, 2013


8:30 – 9:00 a.m.        Registration    

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.        Welcoming and Introductory Remarks

                                    [Princeton University – Computer Science Bldg: Room 104, 35 Olden Street]

M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
(Program Chair)

Jon Mandaville, Portland State University, Portland, OR
(AMSS President)

9:30 - 11:00 a.m.         Panel 1            [Computer Science Bldg: Room 104]
Religious Law under Secular Constitutions
Chair: Aisha Y. Musa, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
Discussant: Lawrence Rosen, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Edgar Melgar (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ): “Academics, Imams, Believers and the State: Religious Authority in Modern Islam and the American Judicial System”  Abstract  /  Bio   

Edip Yuksel (Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ), and Layth AlShaiban (Free Minds and Progressive Muslims): “Peacemakers Constitution”  Abstract  /  Bio 

Joshua M. Roose (University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia): “Shari’a, Islamophobia and Legal Pluralism in Practice: Insights from Sydney and New York” Abstract  /  Bio  
11: 00 – 11:15 a.m.         Break

11:15 a.m - 12:45 p.m.        Panel 2            [Computer Science Bldg: Room 104]
Reform in Islamic Law: A Look at the Causes
Chair: Sumaiya Hamdani, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Discussant: Aaron Spevack, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

Aisha Y. Musa (Colgate University, Hamilton, NY): “Jizya: An Example of Continual Reinterpretation and Reform with a Contemporary Qur’ānic Reinterpretation”  Abstract  /  Bio  

Abdur Rab (Independent Economic Consultant, Houston, TX): “Reform in Finance: Riba vs Interest in the Modern World”
Abstract  /  Final Paper  / Bio

Zainab Alwani (Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, DC): “Islamic Jurisprudence: Role of Women Scholars in Islamic Family Law Reforms in Morocco”  Abstract  /  Bio

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.                                       Luncheon Keynote Address
                                            [Princeton University: Carl Fields Center – Room 104, 58 Prospect Avenue


                                                        Announcement of Newly Elected Board

                                                        Ismail Raji al-Faruqi Memorial Lecture:

                                                          Keynote Speaker: Mohammad H. Fadel  
                                         [Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto, Canada]

                                                                           Keynote Address:
                                        "Islam, Constitutionalism, and the Challenge of Pluralism" 
                                                                   Abstract  /  Final Paper  /  Bio

2:00 – 2:15 p.m. Dhur Prayers

2:15 – 3:45 p.m.         Panel 3            [Computer Science Bldg: Room 104]
Codification Compared: From Iran and Saudi Arabia to Malaysia
Chair: Judith Rahima Jensen, Educational Solutions, Klamath Falls, OR
Discussant: Mirjam Künkler, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Neguin Yavari (New School for Social Research, New York, NY): “Popular vs Divine Will in Comparative Perspective: Shari’a as Constitution in Iran and Saudi Arabia” Abstract  /  Bio

Samy Ayoub (University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ): “The Mecelle: Sharī’a, State, and Modernity Fashioning and Refashioning of Islamic Law in the 19th-20th Centuries CE”  Abstract  /  Bio

Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied (National University of Singapore, Singapore): “ABIM, Syariah Activism and Constitutional Reforms in Malaysia” Abstract  /  Final Paper /  Bio

3:45 – 4:00 p.m.         Break

4:00 – 5:30 p.m.        Panel 4            [Computer Science Bldg: Room 104]
Debates over Islamic Constitutionalism from Said Nursi to al-Azhar
Chair: Meriem El Haitimi, Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah University, Fez, Morocco
Discussant: Bernard Haykel, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Mashal Saif (Duke University, Durham, North Carolina): “Pakistani Shi‘a ‘Ulama’: Debating the Implementation of the Shari’a”
Abstract  /  Bio

Mucahit Bilici (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, NY): “Islamic Constitutionalism and Democracy in Said Nursi’s Munazarat (1911)” Abstract  /  Bio

Usaama al-Azami (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ): “Maqāṣid al-Shari’a, Siyasa Shar’iyya, and al-Azhar: Understanding the New Islamist Debate” Abstract  /  Bio

5:30 - 5:45 p.m.         Concluding Remarks

5:45 – 6:00 p.m.         Break & Asr Prayers

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.         Social Hour & Annual Grand Meeting
                                     [Computer Science Bldg: Room 104]





Conference Report


"Constitutions and Islam"

The North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS), formerly AMSS, presented its 42nd annual conference on 28 September 2013 at Princeton University on “Constitutions and Islam.” The event, which consisted of four panels, was cosponsored by Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies and Program in Near Eastern Studies. NAAIMS President, Prof. Jon Mandaville welcomed the presenters and attendees to this auspicious conference which is the first since the organization changed its name to more accurately reflect its inclusive nature and broad appeal beyond the social sciences.

Critical aspects of the annual theme “Constitutions and Islam” were demonstrated in all four panel sessions, which brought together established scholars, immerging scholars, and doctoral candidates who offered insights on topics of theological, legal, and political interest to both academics and the general public alike. Islam’s popular image is increasingly negative, particularly in Europe and North America. This is particularly true in relation to law and politics, as the widespread “anti-shari’a” movement in the US demonstrates. The negative image of Islamic in popular culture is due in large part to a gross general ignorance. North American scholars of Islamic and Muslim Studies have an important role to play in combating that ignorance. NAAIMS gives such scholars one platform on which to play this important role. The papers presented sparked animated discussion after each panel session during question and answer (Q & A) periods.

The first panel, Religious Law under Secular Constitutions,  brought together Edgar Melgar (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ), Edip Yuksel (Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ), and Joshua M. Roose (university of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia). Members of this panel examined issues of religious and secular legal authority, how secular legal systems have created spaces for religious legal authority, and the complex interaction between religious and secular legal authorities. Edgar Melgar, presented a paper entitled “Academics, Imams, Believers and the State: Religious Authority in Modern Islam and the American Judicial System,” in which he discussed specific case that illustrate the spaces created by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and other aspects of American law “in which the American legal tradition may often interact with some aspects of Islamic law,” something not often recognized in the popular imagination. Edip Yuksel’s scheduled presentation was a proposed “Peacemakers Constitution,” described in the abstract as providing “a federal secular system that allows more room for cultural and religious differences within the limits of the constitution” based on “the universal principles promoted by the Qur’an.”  Although attendees may have been eagerly anticipating this presentation, Yuksel veered completely away from the scheduled topic and instead spoke on the controversial idea of a 19-based numerical structure of the Qur’an and the equally controversial rejection of the authority of Hadith as a source of religious law and guidance in Islam. Joshua M. Roose (university of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia), whose paper “Shari’a, Islamophobia and Legal Pluralism in Practice: Insights from Sydney and New York,” detailed the results of a three year study conducted in Sydney and New York, which examined how Muslims in those cities negotiate shari’a in the context of their daily lives in a secular society.

During the Q & A session which followed, questions of the nature of legal pluralism and the ways in which Islamic law engages with secular legal systems were prominent. Among the most probing was Intisar Rab’s (New York University, NY) question on the ways in which the formation of American law occurs through civic and professional organizations populated with the “new Muslim elites,” while government and civic organizations also effect the character of Islam in America. This was followed by an equally penetrating question by Mohammad Fadel (University of Toronto - Faculty of Law, Canada) with his expressed skepticism about the existence of legal pluralism, asserting that both the US Constitution and Shari’a law exist as supreme laws under whose supervision other legal orders may exist, but are always subject to the minimum requirements of the supreme law. On the question of constitutions in the Muslim world, Lawrence Rosen (Princeton University, NJ) who served as discussant on the first panel observed that constitutions in the Arab world might be based on commonly shared cultural assumptions, in much the same vein that the US Constitution cannot be understood, perhaps, without understanding the shared notion of “virtue” that underpins that document. Rosen went on to compare the proposed Egyptian constitution to America’s Declaration of Independence, a list of complaints that are too specific and time-bound to be in a constitution, suggesting that for constitutions to be more successful in the Middle East, those formulating such documents would do better to seek common cultural grounds rather than to attempt a full listing of all current issues.

The second panel, Reform in Islamic Law: A Look at the Causes, also brought together a diverse group of presenters: Aisha Y. Musa (Colgate University, Hamilton, NY), Abdur Rab (Independent Economic Consultant, Houston, TX), and Zainab Alwani (Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, DC). Each panelist spoke on areas in which Islamic Law can be or is being reformed in the contemporary period. Aisha Musa, spoke on “Jizya: An Example of Continual Reinterpretation and Reform with a Contemporary Qur’ānic Reinterpretation,” detailing the variety of historical understandings of the term “jizya” and demonstrating how that understanding might be changed by interpreting it within the Qur’an’s textual context rather than a tradition based historical context.  Abur Rab, addressed the question of interest in his paper: “Reform in Finance: Riba vs Interest in the Modern Economy,” arguing for a clear distinction between the “riba” prohibited in the Qur’an and the “interest,” which plays such an important role in the economy of the modern world. Zainab Alwani, detailed several officially recognized categories of female religious scholars and the roles they play in serving women at different levels of society in “Islamic Jurisprudence: Role of Women Scholars in Islamic Family Law Reforms in Morocco,” highlighting the important interaction of theory and practice in Islamic family law.

The third panel, Codification Compared: From Iran and Saudi Arabia to Malaysia, brought together Neguin Yavari (New School for Social Research, New York, NY), Samy Ayoub (University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied (National University of Singapore, Singapore). This panel shifted the discussion from the interplay of Islamic Law in the context of Western secular legal systems to influence of Shari’a in the political and legal systems of different Muslim countries. Neguin Yavari examined the variant views of Shari’a and its role in governing society in two very different contemporary Muslim contexts: The Shi’ite context of Iran with its written constitution, and the Sunni context of Saudi Arabia, which lacks a written constitution, in “Popular vs Divine Will in Comparative Perspective: Shari’a as Constitution in Iran and Saudi Arabia.” Both countries claim that shari’a is the constitution of the state, but what that means and how it manifests differs in each setting. Samy Ayoub, looked at the effects of modernization and the on the move toward codification in Turkish legal system in “The Mecelle: Sharī’a, State, and Modernity Fashioning and Refashioning of Islamic Law in the 19th-20th Centuries CE,” casting that codification not as a result of Western influence but as a continuation of the on-going transformation of the indigenous legal system. Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied addressed the on-going calls for the implementation of Shari’a, on the part of the largest Muslim youth organization, and how that organization’s understanding of of the place of shari’a often conflicts with the prevailing understanding in Malaysia in “ABIM, Syariah Activism and Constitutional Reforms in Malaysia.”

The Q & A session following this panel was lively and thought provoking due to the interpretation and application of Islamic law in three Muslim countries with distinct and well-defined, noticeable political and legal systems.

The fourth panel, Debates over Islamic Constitutionalism from Said Nursi to al-Azhar, brought together Mashal Saif (Duke University, Durham, NC), Mucahit Bilici (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, NY), and Usaama al-Azami (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ) who brought the discussion from the practical to the theoretical. Mashal Saif examines three varying views held by prominent Pakistani Shi’ite scholars in “Pakistani Shi‘a ‘Ulama’: Debating the Implementation of the Shari’a.” The views run the gamut from avoiding the implementation of shari’a in favor of a secular state to the full implementation of an Iranian style shari’a government. In “Islamic Constitutionalism and Democracy in Said Nursi’s Munazarat (1911), ” Mucahit Bilici analyses the thinking of Said Nursi, the most important legal thinker of late Ottoman and early Republican Turkey, demonstrating that Nursi successfully generated organic support for democratic ideals among Turkish Muslims of his day, long before Kemal Ataturk. Usaama al-Azami provides insights into the development of Islamist thinking in Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring in “Maqāṣid al-Shari’a, Siyasa Shar’iyya, and al-Azhar: Understanding the New Islamist Debate.”

The luncheon keynote speaker, Mohammad H. Fadel (University of Toronto - Faculty of Law, Canada), spoke on “Islam, Democratic Constitutionalism, and the Problem of Pluralism.” After highlighting the inherent tension between “a religious conception of political legitimacy and one grounded in a notion of democratic constitutionalism,” Fadel examined the legacy of constitutional doctrines found in pre-modern Sunni legal thought and how these could provide a basis for a democratic future for the Muslim world.

An overall sense that emerged from the conference is that democratic and pluralistic ideas have been articulated by Muslim scholars in various ways throughout Islamic history and that Muslims have always sought religiously legitimate ways to navigate law and politics in a multi-cultural and multi-religious milieu.

Aisha Y. Musa
Assistant Professor of Religion
and Middle Eastern Studies and Civilization
Colgate University
Hamilton, NY
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