Islamic Law (Sharia) and U.S. Foreign Policy

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September 23, 2011
8:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Location: Berkley Center Third Floor Conference Room

What is Islamic law (sharia), and why have demands for its implementation become more widespread in the Muslim world? What are the implications of the sharia for democratic rights and freedoms, including those of women and religious minorities? How should Western government and aid agencies respond to calls for sharia implementation? Even as they undergo great political transitions, Muslim societies today are experiencing growing calls for the implementation of Islamic law (sharia). Yet Muslims disagree on the meaning of sharia and its proper place in modern society. The outcome of the debate is not merely academic but will have powerful implications for Muslim politics and interactions with the West.

Building on a two-year project conducted by the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University, this conference brought together leading experts in the study of Islamic law to examine the political uses and meanings of sharia in Muslim societies. Designed for policy analysts, journalists, and others involved in the Muslim world, the conference highlighted the implications of sharia politics for democracy, freedom, social justice, and Western foreign policy. 

This seminar was sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University. 

SCHEDULE

Welcome and Introduction | Tom Banchoff, Robert W. Hefner

Panel 1: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey | Bahman Baktiari, Nathan J. Brown, Robert W. Hefner, Frank E. Vogel, M. Hakan Yavuz

Panel 2: Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Indonesia | Thomas J. Barfield, John Esposito, Robert W. Hefner, Paul M. Lubeck, Muhammad Qasim Zaman

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Participants