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ILSP: SHARIAsource Lunch Talk :: Islamic Challenges to the Universality of International Law
March 27, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The universality and coherence of modern international is increasingly challenged by technical fragmentation and identity-driven claims to particularity. This talk critically examines both the historical contribution of Islamic law to the regulation of international relations and whether relations with and between Islamic nations are in fact different.
How to meet the justified demand for greater pedagogical recognition of diversity, with an intellectually honest critical engagement with non-Western cultural and legal traditions has become one of the defining challenges of teaching international law in the global classroom. It appears evident that accepting facile claims derived from a selective and highly idealised reading of dogmatic texts cannot do justice to our understanding of the actual operation of pre-modern, non-Western international legal relations. More importantly, such a selective, idealised, often hortatory reading of the dogmatic and historical record does not prepare us to evaluate the possibility, indeed desirability of alternative systems of international law, as claimed for instance by an alleged ‘Islamic law of nations’, siyar.
Dr. Ebrahim Afsah is an associate professor of public international law at the University of Vienna and a professor of Islamic law and ethics at the University of Vienna. He has been trained at SOAS London, Trinity College Dublin, the Harvard Kennedy School and the Max Planck Institute for International Law in Heidelberg. Prior to rejoining academia, he worked for many years as a consultant on administrative reform and state-building, an experience which informs his approach to the study of Islamic public law.