Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World

开始时间: 04/22/2022 持续时间: 12 weeks

所在平台: CourseraArchive

课程类别: 人文

大学或机构: University of Copenhagen(哥本哈根大学)

授课老师: Ebrahim Afsah



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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: 

  • We privilege the study of the legal and social reality and seek to highlight where it is at odds with dogmatic stipulations, be they religious or constitutional. 

  • We seek to illustrate the practical tensions posed by limited administrative capabilities and political legitimacy that resulted from the incomplete reception of modern bureaucratic statehood. 

  • We seek to examine how popular dissatisfaction with the practical performance of Muslim governments has fuelled demands for greater accountability under the guise of cultural authenticity. 

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: Introduction and General Overview

Geographic Area; Colonialism, both external and internal; Reception of Law and Administration; Wars and their Outcomes; Socio-Economic Challenges; Four Models of Adaptation.

Week 2: Classical Thinking on the Islamic State

The Enduring Ideal of the Caliphate; Dynastic Challenge of the Sultanate; Mongol Onslaught; Dogmatic Adaptation to these Changes; Islamic Reform Movements.

Week 3: Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Monarchies

Paternalistic Constitutions and Foreign Technological Expertise; Wahabism and its Offshots; Religious Innovation and Political Instrumentalisation under Conservative Guise; Ideological Export.

Week 4: Egypt and North Africa

Colonial Legacies in Law and Administration; Royalism and Republicanism; Legal Reform Movements; Reception and Transmission of Law; Political Islam.

Week 5: Consociational Dilemmas: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq

Colonial Legacies in Law and Administration; Royalism and Republicanism; Pan-Arabism; Reception of French, English and Foreign Law; Autocracy; Civil War; Imposed Constitutional Settlement.

Week 6: Turkey

From the Abolition of the Caliphate to the Laicistic State; Ottoman Legal Reform (the Majallah); Political Institutions; Bureaucratic Models; Electoral Islamism; Political Economy of EU Accession.

Week 7: Iran

Dependency and Autocracy; Japanese Models and the Constitutional Revolution; Democratic Institutions Aborted; Islamic Revolution; Cultural Revolution and Its Aftermath; Socio-Economic Stalemate.

Week 8: Pakistan and Afghanistan

Identity Politics; Western Models and the Search for Authenticity; Zia’s Islamisation and its Discontents; Anti-Soviet War and Societal Disintegration.

Week 9: Malaysia and Indonesia

Peripheral Islam; Colonial Legacies and Legal Traditions; Constitutional Arrangements and Emergencies; Economic Reform; Ethnic Divisions.

Week 10: The Post-Communist Periphery: Bosnia to Soviet and Chinese Central Asia

Secular Legacies; Religion and the Search for Identity; Disintegration of Institutional Certainties; Economic Adaptations and Societal Disintegration.

Week 11: Conclusion and Outlook

The Enduring Appeal of the Ummah; Pan-Islamic Cooperation; An Islamic International Law?; Political Islam and the Challenge of Actual Government; Authenticity and Functional Limits.



Learn what motivates the restive Muslim youth from Cairo 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.


Muslim 穆斯林 中东 哥本哈根大学



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