Islam and Sharia Law

Islam and Sharia Law. Atlantic Council. Yussef Auf. May 5, 2016.

With the meteoric rise of Islamic political movements in 2011, the issue of Sharia law has come to the forefront of a debate around the role of religion in governance. In the issue brief, Auf identifies and explains the challenges of incorporating Sharia law into the legal framework of modern governments, using the example of Egypt to enumerate the difficulties of codifying religious doctrine into law. Auf discusses how Sharia law attempts to regulate public life in three different domains: political governance, the Islamic legal system, and the economic system. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 8 pages, 920.72 KB]

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Extremism Concerns Growing in West and Predominantly Muslim Countries

Extremism Concerns Growing in West and Predominantly Muslim Countries. Pew Research Center. Jacob Poushter. July 16, 2015.

As the Islamic militant group ISIS continues to entrench itself in Syria and Iraq, and instigate terrorist attacks around the world, concerns about Islamic extremism are growing in the West and in countries with significant Muslim populations. Since 2011, the percentage saying they are very concerned about Islamic extremism in their country has increased 38 percentage points in France, 29 points in Spain, 21 points in the United Kingdom, 20 points in Germany and 17 points in the United States. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 13 pages, 916.89 KB].

The Recurring Rise and Fall of Political Islam

The Recurring Rise and Fall of Political Islam. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Paul Salem. March 25, 2015.

Paul Salem chronicles and analyzes the shifting fortunes of political Islam in the region. For political Islamic groups, the past four years have been the best of years and the worst of years. In this period, the Arab world’s oldest and largest political Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), had its biggest ever victory in its homeland of Egypt, followed a year later by its biggest defeat. In the same period, a jihadi-salafi group, the Islamic State group (ISG), conquered large swaths of these two countries and announced the establishment of the Islamic State and the restoration of the caliphate in the person of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages, 1.92 MB].

Clouds Over Charities for Refugees in Islamic Countries

Clouds Over Charities for Refugees in Islamic Countries. YaleGlobal. Susan Froetschel. December 18, 2014.

The world has 50 million displaced people, and refugees have little choice but to depend on other countries and their citizens for generosity. Faith-based charities are often among the first to respond to humanitarian crises, notes the UN Refugee Agency, and Islamic faith-based charities are active in Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – lead host nations for refugees. Fundraising by Muslim charities could be compromised as governments try to block financing mechanisms for extremist groups like the Islamic State, including jihadists posing as charitable groups. Governments, however, don’t agree on which groups should be banned. The UAE placed Britain’s largest Muslim charity, one that works closely with governments and the United Nations, on a list of banned groups. Aid groups engaging in discrimination, waste or criminal activity erode donor confidence. Unfounded accusations can ruin reputations and discourage generosity, too. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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New Theater of Cruelty: Beheadings Demand Civilization’s Response

New Theater of Cruelty: Beheadings Demand Civilization’s Response. YaleGlobal. Joji Sakurai. October 9, 2014.

Islamic State extremists burst forth on the world scene with brutal acts, with all the absurd petulance of an angry, bullying yet powerless adolescent desperate for attention. In an era of rapid communications, images and messages spread instantly. The depraved put on a performance, a new theater of cruelty, perverting a centuries-old religion, and globalization ensures instant judgment. Describing the videos of beheadings and mass killings as “performance” can risk trivializing conflict and suffering, admits Joji Sakurai, who argues the cruel acts demand a powerful and rhetorical response from global civilization in the inspiring ways of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Ronald Reagan. Civilization’s many creations, comforts and joys are taken for granted. Global leaders like Barack Obama, Angela Merkel or Narendra Modi are capable and must reclaim the imaginative terrain to inspire. “We must be warriors of tolerance, calling to arms our reason, our compassion and our sanity,” Sakurai writes, concluding that globalization can spread the rich benefits of spirituality and intellect or the meanness of intolerance and hate. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights

Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Kenneth Katzman. August 12, 2014.

Since the 2011 U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq, sectarian and ethnic divisions have widened, fueling a major challenge to Iraq’s stability and to Iraq’s non-Muslim minority communities. Iraq’s Sunni Arabs have sided with radical Sunni Islamist insurgents as a means to end Shiite political domination and perceived discrimination by the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Iraq’s Kurds have been separately embroiled in political disputes with the Baghdad government over territorial, political, and economic issues, particularly their intent to separately export large volumes of oil produced in the Kurdish region. The political rifts–which were contained by the U.S. military presence but have been escalating since late 2011–erupted into a sustained uprising beginning in December 2013 led by the radical extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now renamed the Islamic State. The group and its allies took control of several cities in Anbar Province in early 2014 and in a lightening offensive captured Mosul and several other mostly Sunni cities in June 2014, aided by a partial collapse of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The ISF collapse enabled the Kurds to seize control of the long-coveted city of Kirkuk.

[PDF format, 49 pages, 496.86 KB].

The Islamic World and the West: Recovering Common History

The Islamic World and the West: Recovering Common History. YaleGlobal. Nayef Al-Rodhan. July 15, 2014.

One out of five people in the world are Muslim, and many Europeans express fear about growing numbers of Muslim migrants. “Islam in Europe tends to be viewed as not only a recent, but also a foreign and threatening presence,” explains Nayef Al-Rodhan. “Europe and the Arab-Islamic world have brushed shoulders for centuries, and their histories are inextricably linked.” Europe tends to overlook historical contributions from the Arab-Islamic world. “Pushing immigrant communities to shed cultural frameworks only encourages these communities towards counterproductive defensive postures,” Al-Rodhan writes. Acknowledgement of the shared heritage and mutual contributions , not simply with trade but in mathematics, scientific inquiry and art, could counter the emerging narratives that Islam is dangerous for Europe and Muslims lack enthusiasm for innovation. Such acknowledgement alone will not ensure security, Al-Rodhan concludes, and good governance may not necessarily follow western liberal democratic traditions. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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