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v2.1 Reference

A Secular Need

Islamic Law and State Governance in Contemporary India

Whether from the perspective of Islamic law's advocates, secularism's partisans, or communities caught in their crossfire, many people see the relationship between Islamic law and secularism as antagonistic and increasingly discordant. In the United States there are calls for "sharia bans" in the courts, in western Europe legal limitations have been imposed on mosques and the wearing of headscarves, and in the Arab Middle East conflicts between secularist old guards and Islamist revolutionaries persist—suggesting that previously unsteady coexistences are transforming into outright hostilities.

Jeffrey Redding's exploration of India's non-state system of Muslim dispute resolution—known as the dar-ul-qaza system and commonly referred to as "Muslim courts" or "shariat courts"—challenges conventional narratives about the inevitable opposition between Islamic law and secular forms of governance, demonstrating that Indian secular law and governance cannot work without the significant assistance of non-state Islamic legal actors.

About the Authors

Jeffrey A. Redding is senior research fellow at Melbourne Law School and a New Generation Network scholar at the University of Melbourne's Australia India Institute.

Reviews

"Redding provides thought-provoking cases and analyses, and these are riveting."—CHOICE

"[A] nuanced description of how the law works –not in isolation, in this or that state institution, but rather in interaction with society, its history, the political contestations, cultural factors and economic conditions. This is done through an 'against the grain' reading of unconventional materials to get a reasonable grasp of the uncertain, unxed and unpredictable nature of the law."—Contemporary South Asia

"A Secular Need is a succinct text which engages with a plethora of difficult topics."—

Endorsements

"Redding's approach is both novel and provocative. A Secular Need will make a unique contribution to the study of Islamic law as it is administered outside of the official judicial system in India."—Sylvia Vatuk, author of Marriage and Its Discontents: Women, Islam, and the Law in India

"Redding is one of the most learned scholars of the Indian legal system in this current generation. A Secular Need is very informative, well-researched, and a thorough study of the dar ul qaza system in India."—Yüksel Sezgin, Syracuse University

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