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Islamic Constitutionalism: Not Secular. Not Theocratic. Not Impossible.

Asifa Quraishi-Landes will explain her current project, proposing a structure for Islamic constitutionalism that is inspired by Islamic jurisprudence and Muslim history, yet designed for contemporary realities. This structure is conceptually different from the typical “Islamic state” imagined by modern political Islam movements, as it is built upon the pre-colonial separation of Muslim lawmaking power: siyasa, made by rulers, and fiqh, articulated by religious legal scholars. She will argue that popular understandings of sharia fail to see the constitutional importance of these two legal realms, largely because global discourses about Islamic government are dominated by Eurocentric concepts of law (especially religious law). Quraishi-Landes will then present a proposal for Islamic constitutionalism that will demonstrate that—if we step outside the European nation-state paradigm to see sharia as an Islamic rule of law made up of both fiqh and siyasa—an Islamic constitutionalism that is not secular and not theocratic is not impossible.

Quraishi-Landes is a Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she teaches courses in US Constitutional Law and Islamic law. Her research focuses on comparative constitutional law, with a current focus on modern Islamic constitutional theory.

Co-sponsored by the Muslim Law Students Association and the Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA) at Harvard Law School.