Learn what motivates the restive Muslim youth from Tunis to Tehran, what political positions Islamists from Mali to Chechnya are fighting for, where the seeming obsession with Islamic law comes from, where the secularists have vanished to, and whether it makes sense to speak of an Islamic state.
Since 2009 there has been a renewed wave of popular unrest sweeping throughout much of the Muslim world. Secular, but generally repressive and inefficient autocracies have come under pressure or been swept aside entirely. At the same, the various Islamic Republics have not fared much better, but been convulsed by internal unrest, economic and social decline. Throughout the Muslim lands, existing constitutional arrangements are being challenged, often very violently.
This course is a survey of the constitutional ideas and institutions that have developed since the mid 19th century throughout predominantly Muslim countries, but its focus will lie on the actors that have dominated this discourse and shaped its outcomes. We will look at the large body of classical writings on the Islamic state only in so far as it is necessary to understand the contemporary debate, but concentrate on the legal and political developments of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Three common themes will characterise the course:
Ultimately, the course aims to equip participants to better understand Muslim contemporary discourse about the res publica, better contextualise the demands for religious law in public life, and to better ascertain the theoretical and practical feasibility of postulated religious alternatives to the still-dominant secular model of governance.
Week 1: Presenting the Course (Overview)
Week 2: Ottoman Empire & Modern Turkey
Week 3: Egypt & Maghreb
Week 4: Saudi Arabia & The Gulf
Week 5 Iran & The Shiites
Week 6 The Levant (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon & Iraq)
Week 7: Afghanistan, Pakistan & Bangladesh
Week 8 Malaysia & Indonesia
Week 9 Sub-Saharan Africa
Week 10 Conclusion & Outlook
By choice and necessity, this course will be interdisciplinary and has no prerequisites. No knowledge of Arabic or other Oriental languages is assumed; neither is previous familiarity with the study of religion in general and Islamic beliefs in particular; nor with the legal method in general and constitutional law in particular. Rather than assuming a common frame of reference, it is expected that students’ diverse disciplinary backgrounds will complement each other.
The course will consist of lectures in short (15-55 min) videos, each of which will be followed by an exercise in which participants can test their grasp of the new material. The exercises will combine multiple-choice with essay-type questions.
Most lectures will be accompanied by written background material from the instructor which, hopefully, will eventually form the basis of a text-book. Participants are, therefore, welcome to give feedback in order to improve this material.
In addition to the books suggested, there will be suggested external readings which participants are strongly encouraged to conclude before each week's lectures. The readings will clearly differentiate between those of central and peripheral importance.
In addition, we will make recommendations to open-source external audio-visual material, in particular TV documentations, to complement the lectures and give participants a better 'feel' for the countries under consideration.