Shari'a is one of the most hotly contested and misunderstood concepts and practices in the world today. Debates about Islamic law and its relationship to secularism and Christianity have dominated political and theological discourse for centuries. Unfortunately, Western Christian theologians have failed to engage sufficiently with the challenges and questions raised by Islamic political theology, preferring instead to essentialize or dismiss it. In Law and the Rule of God, Joshua Ralston presents an innovative approach to Christian-Muslim dialogue. Eschewing both polemics and apologetics, he proposes a comparative framework for Christian engagement with Islamic debates on shari'a. Ralston draws on a diverse range of thinkers from both traditions including Karl Barth, Ibn Taymiyya, Thomas Aquinas, and Mohammad al-Jabri. He offers an account of public law as a provisional and indirect witness to the divine rule of justice. He also demonstrates how this theology of public law deeply resonates with the Christian tradition and is also open to learning from and dialoguing with Islamic and secular conceptions of law, sovereignty, and justice.
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Joshua Ralston is Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations at the University of Edinburgh and co-founder and director of the Christian-Muslim Studies Network, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Acknowledgements; Note on transliteration; 1. Christian political theology as comparative theology; 2. Neither conciliation nor confrontation: a comparative approach to shari'a and islamic jurisprudence; 3. 'That hideous schizophrenia:' a genealogy of muslim critiques of christian theologies of law; 4. The difficulty with distinctions: justin martyr, thomas aquinas, and martin luther on law; 5. Building a christological legal foundation: a conversation with karl barth; 6. The witness of law in comparative perspective; Conclusion: toward a comparative theo-legal discourse; Selected bibliography; Index.
The book develops the idea that we can learn as Christians and Westerners from the idea of law in Islam. And at the same time when we start to learn from Islam, this way of learning can invite Muslims to rethink their own attitude towards modernity and secularism. This move is really brilliant and of highest originality. I am not aware of any work which follows this path for the subject of law, especially not in this depth and with this scrutiny. Klaus von Stosch, Head of the Centre of Comparative Theology and Cultural Studies at the university of Paderborn, Germany
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