Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law

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Khaled Abou El Fadl's book represents the first systematic examination of the idea and treatment of political resistance and rebellion in Islamic law. Pre-modern jurists produced an extensive and sophisticated discourse on the legality of rebellion and the treatment due to rebels under Islamic law. The book examines the emergence and development of these discourses from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, and considers juristic responses to the various terror-inducing strategies employed by rebels—including assassination, stealth attacks and rape. The study demonstrates how Muslim jurists went about restructuring several competing doctrinal sources in order to construct a highly technical discourse on rebellion. Indeed many of these rulings may have a profound influence on contempoary practices. This is an important and challenging book which sheds light on the complexities of Islamic law, and pre-modern attitudes to dissidence and rebellion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"He has made Rebellion and Violence the sort of book i wish scholars outside of our field would read. It wonderfully imparts a sense of the subtlety and sophistication-and, surprisingly perhaps, given the subject matter, the humanity-of juristic discourse in the Islamic tradition."
Joseph E. Lowry, Journal of Near Eastern Studies
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521793117
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2009
  • Pages: 404
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Khaled Abou El Fadl is an Acting Professor at the University of California Los Angeles law school. His publications include The Search for Authority in Modern Islam (forthcoming).

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Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgments; Introduction; 1. Modern scholarship and reorienting the approach to rebellion; 2. The doctrinal foundations of the laws of rebellion; 3. The historical context and the creative response; 4. The rise of the juristic discourse on rebellion: fragmentation; 5. The spread of the Islamic law of rebellion from the fourth/tenth to the fifth/eleventh centuries; 6. Rebellion, insurgency and brigandage: the developed positions and the emergence of trends; 7. The developed non-Sunni positions; 8. Negotiating rebellion in Islamic law; Works cited; Indexes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2002

    Rebellion is not violence

    Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law by Khaled Abou El Fadl I must admit that I approached this book with the recent events that led to the September 11 attacks in mind. I was hoping that the book will provide us readers with an understanding as to why Muslims resort to violence. Understandably, the book did not satisfy that given that it was written prior to the events abovementioned. So if you are like me, looking for some answers about Muslims and violence as played out recently; I am afraid the book is not for you. This is a book for the academic community and it is a great contribution in that regard. Just like the author said in the introduction, there is not enough literature on the subject (as secondary works), although it appears from the sources cited in the book that Muslims have given great concideration to the topic. The value of the book is in its role in connecting Islamic politics (the caliphate) and jurisprudence (fiqh). The book also succeeded in unearthing the many Arabic resources that have dealt with the topic of violence and rebellion in Islam. But in doing so, I believe the author, in his attempt to chart new territory, confused many concepts and boxed together elements that ought not be put in the same basket. Here are just some of the problems that did not help in grasping the themes or bridge them with the primary sources: 1. The long footnotes: the author uses very long footnotes wherein he engages in stating opinions that require more analysis and explanations. Some of the footnotes should not have been there at all, other footnotes should have been placed in the body. Examples: pp. 8, 9, 17, 26, 36, 53, 69, 83, 88, 107, 139, 239, 285, 326. In other other situations where a footnote is need, the author simply avoids referencing some claims and generalizations that he makes about key concepts. A key example for instance is his definition of rebellion and his introduction of the Arabic concepts baghy and muhaarib... he defines them and states the legal rule rearding such acts, but he neglected to footnote his source if there were any... (see pp. 32) lastly, some time the author states an opinion, and places a footnote in support of it, upon checking the source, I failed on many occasions to see the relationship between the though/theory and the sources indicated in the footnote. They are simply mistakes, or totally mis-understood by the author. 2. factual inconsistencies: while stating the rule concerning the rebels and the various groups, he argued that Islamic law does not call for the killing or destructionof rebels. This is historically incorrect. The author is either attempting to soften Islamic law on rebellion or is oversimplifying the legal rules. 3. Method and approach: the author optd to discuss the theme in a timeline framework. That approach caused him (intentionally or not) to overlook many instances of rebellion in islamic history. The topic would have been better served if the author presented real cases of rebellion and political violence instead of a timeline of the concept. 4. Like many books on Islamic law, this book also ignores the Shi`ite point of view. The work is exclusively focused on Salafi thought. Isma`ilis and Zaydis and other denominations were briefly mentioned. However the major concept of khuruj was ignored or played down despite its centrality in Shi`i theology and jurisprudence. Despite that most of the resources are from Sunni works, the author goes further to reserve on full chapter for the Sunni position. Even the books history written by Sunni historians referred to khuruj as a form of rebellion, but the author inexplicbly chose even not to discuss the case of Hussein and his murder that was sanctioned by the Sunni establishment and Caliphate. In short, this is good start, but it is hardly a reference on rebellion and violence in Islamic law. -------------- Book Particulars: Hardcover: 350 pages Publisher

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