Understanding Sharia: Past Perfect/Imperfect Present
Much modern Muslim thought, particularly around legal issues, is characterised by an emulation of past perfection, and a dissatisfaction with an imperfect present.
Muslim communities and movements, be they radical and violent or liberal and progressive, usually frame their programmes for change as attempts to preserve, revive and recapture the belief and practice of the past Muslim community. From terrorism which claims to be Islamic to the European Sharia law debates, the need for a greater understanding of the pivotal role of historical precedent in the construction of contemporary Muslim thinking is clear. This project aims to address this need.
The researchers will create a research base and draw on international networks of expertise. They will also engage in activities to spread this knowledge to a wider, non-academic audience, including both those within and outside of the Muslim community.
Understanding the importance of the perceptions of the past and the authority drawn from precedent for current Muslim thought and practice is often misunderstood within the academic community, but more crucially among policymakers and the public. This project aims to contribute to raising the level of public debate around these issues by emphasising the creative and future-orientation of modern Muslim understandings of the past.
The project is a collaboration of four institutions:
- University of Bergen
- University of Exeter
- University of Gottingen
- University of Leiden