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Harvard Law Professor to Lecture on Islamic Constitution
FOR RELEASE: October 14, 2008
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey 410-626-2539
Should the modern Muslim world adopt the law of the traditional Islamic state? Noah Feldman, professor at Harvard Law School, will explore this and other questions in his lecture at St. John's College on "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State." The lecture will be held in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium on Friday, October 24, at 8:15 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.
In his lecture Feldman will explore the ideas he examines in depth in his book of the same title. In his book, Feldman presents the history of the traditional Islamic constitution and probes the struggle in the Muslim world between the forces of religion and law and those of violence and lawlessness.
Feldman says he will explain the story behind the increasingly popular call for the establishment of the "shari'a"—;the law of the traditional Islamic state-in the modern Muslim world. Some perceive it as a threat to democracy while some Islamist movements are winning elections on it and some terrorists use it to justify their crimes. What, then, is the "shari'a"? Given the severity of some of its provisions why is it popular among Muslims? Can the Islamic state succeed—should it?
Feldman will explore how the classical Islamic constitution governed through and was legitimated by law. He will also examine how executive power was balanced by the scholars who interpreted and administered the "shari'a", and how this balance of power was finally destroyed by the incomplete reforms of the modern era. The result has been the unchecked executive dominance that now distorts politics in so many Muslim states. Feldman argues that a modern Islamic state could provide political and legal justice to today's Muslims, but only if new institutions emerge that restore this constitutional balance of power.
Feldman is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bemis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is also the author of "After Jihad, What We Owe Iraq," and "Divided by God." Feldman was the former senior constitutional adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and his current work examines the compatibility of democracy and Islam. He is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. Read more ...