The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral by Wael Hallaq

By Wael Hallaq

Wael B. Hallaq boldly argues that the "Islamic state," judged by means of any common definition of what the trendy kingdom represents, is either most unlikely and inherently self-contradictory. evaluating the criminal, political, ethical, and constitutional histories of premodern Islam and Euro-America, he reveals the adoption and perform of the trendy nation to be hugely complex for contemporary Muslims. He additionally evaluations extra expansively modernity's ethical challenge, which renders most unlikely any venture resting completely on moral foundations.

The sleek nation not just suffers from critical felony, political, and constitutional concerns, Hallaq argues, but additionally, by way of its very nature, models a subject matter inconsistent with what it ability to be, or to stay as, a Muslim. through Islamic criteria, the state's applied sciences of the self are seriously missing in ethical substance, and brand new Islamic country, as Hallaq indicates, has performed little to improve a suitable kind of actual Shari'a governance. The Islamists' constitutional battles in Egypt and Pakistan, the Islamic felony and political mess ups of the Iranian Revolution, and related disappointments underscore this truth. however, the kingdom continues to be the well-liked template of the Islamists and the ulama (Muslim clergymen).

Providing Muslims with a course towards understanding the great lifestyles, Hallaq turns to the wealthy ethical assets of Islamic background. alongside the best way, he proves political and different "crises of Islam" usually are not special to the Islamic international nor to the Muslim faith. those crises are fundamental to the trendy situation of either East and West, and via acknowledging those parallels, Muslims can have interaction extra productively with their Western opposite numbers.

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87 The executive power was mandated by the Sharīʿa to legislate in limited and restricted spheres, but this right was derivative, subsidiary, and—compared to the modern state—relatively marginal. On these grounds, Kelsen’s critique of the separation of powers in the modern state would have been, in principle, satisfied by the Islamic forms of governance. Let us indulge here in a little speculation: had he come to understand the Sharīʿa as a bottom-up system of governance (a subject we later discuss in some detail), and had he been able to free himself of the presupposition that the only democratic form possible is the Western, Kelsen might well have declared the Islamic system a democracy of the first order, superior, at any rate, to its modern Western counterpart.

All bureaucratic divisions, even at the lowest levels, are supervised and controlled by higher unifying administrative units, which in turn tend to accumulate under their jurisdiction various bureaucratic divisions that exhibit the feature of competition, if not turf protection. Put differently, the more bureaucracy expands, the more it falls under unified organizational rules,58 thereby creating a hierarchical structure of administration. If centralization means anything (and certainly it does not mean the center of a periphery of equidistant points) it is a top-down, pyramidal structure.

72 The deconstruction of these appearances must also interrogate the fundamental paradox that the autonomy of the cultural entails the fact that the cultural possesses the capacity to sanction its own destruction. If we accept that the state knows only itself, that it is its own end, that it knows no other end,73 and that therefore it is inherently incapable of sanctioning its own destruction, then the implication that the cultural domain sanctions its own destruction would make total nonsense of any claim for the autonomy of the cultural.

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