Inderscience Publishers

Democracy's greatest challenge: the legal sources of an Islamic state

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This paper explores the legal sources of the modern state as described in accordance with Islamic law (shari'a). Beginning with an introduction, the paper uses two fatwa as a starting point to further expound on the nature of the state as described in two legal sources: the Qur'an (or Islamic law, as revealed to the prophet Muhammad) and the Sunna, the record of Muhammad's teachings, sayings and life experiences. The paper will also examine one 'quasi-legal' source, the Constitution of Medina. Jurists developed Islamic law after the death of Muhammad and, as such, we will identify the early elements of the state as described by them. Following this discussion, the paper identifies the institutions of a democratic Islamic state and the 'ideal' state, which became the focus of early Islamic philosophers. The paper will end with a detailed case study concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran and its adherence to Islamic law using points of reference made throughout the paper, including the two fatwa.

Keywords: Islam, Muhammad, Quran, Islamic Law, democracy, government, republic, fatwa, shura, Islamic Republic of Iran, sharia, Sunna, Constitution of Medina

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