Posts Tagged ‘Ikhwan’

The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State by Noah Feldman

August 27, 2008

Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University begins this work by pointing out that when “government systems fall, they tend to stay dead.” Few people are worried about a comeback of monarchy or communism. Yet there are exceptions. Feldman mentions that the concept of “democracy” was resurrected after two thousand years of laying dormant and that the Islamic State, which existed in some form from the time of the Hijrah of the Prophet (saw) in 622 CE until the First World War, is, a hundred years later, everywhere gaining popularity amongst Muslims as the hope of the future.

Feldman is an excellent writer and is very skillful in distilling complicated historical and legal concepts in ways which are intelligible to the average educated reader while still remaining substantive. Feldman begins the book by trying to describe what the Islamic State was, that is, to take a brief look at Islamic constitutional theory as it developed over those 13 centuries. Feldman is writing primarily for a western audience and he realizes that most of his audience will come to the topic thinking of Shari’ah as almost the quintessential example of a legal system which is backward, barbaric and tyrannical. This modern western perception comes from the triumph of secularism in the west and from a domination in the western mind of a few corporal punishments in Islamic criminal law and some gender related issues as being the only thing the average westerner thinks of when he or she thinks of Islamic Law, or the Shari’ah. This is of course, not accidental but the result, in addition to general ignorance, of the purposeful distortion and propaganda against Islam and the Shari’ah that is not only a recent phenomenon but which has been part of the long rivalry between first Islam and Christendom, and later Islam and “the West.”