Histories of the Modern Middle East: New Directions

Histories of the Modern Middle East: New Directions

Histories of the Modern Middle East: New Directions

Histories of the Modern Middle East: New Directions

Synopsis

Covering over 200 years of change, this collection represents key trends in the historiography of the modern Middle East. The topics discussed range from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to globalisation, and from well-established figures to new actors.

Excerpt

With the zenith of European colonialism, Western legal scholarship on Islam constructed a paradigm according to which Islamic law suffered from a rigidity that ultimately led to a sort of paralysis. This paradigm, which was put to the service of colonialist doctrine and practice, was a necessary step in occidentalizing the East and, effectively, in vindicating a structural demolition of traditional Near Eastern legal systems. Structural dismantling was, in turn, a prerequisite for constructing Western-like national legal systems that were instrumental for the realization of colonialist policies. Unfortunately, this paradigm continues to prevail to a large degree, although increasingly attempts are being made to dislodge it. a characteristic feature of these attempts has been the effort to show that at certain times and in certain places the law did undergo change.

This chapter represents a product of a larger study that aims to go beyond these emerging themes. Ibn 'Ābidīn's discourse is identified here as the work of the author-jurist, a hitherto overlooked juristic category or role that was conducive to legal change as a structural function. in other words, while showing that episodic change in the law is, in and of itself, a worthy quest, this chapter aims, in part, to demonstrate not only that the mechanisms of legal change constituted a structural feature of the law but that the discourse of the author-jurist—as a manipulator of the discursive tradition—was necessarily an integral part of these structural mechanisms. More specifically, and within the parameters set by the present volume, this chapter attempts to show that through these mechanisms—of which one tool was the discursive strategies of the author-

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