Panel 7H

Islamic Law and Intellectualism

9.00 – 11.00
Chair: Serena Tolino, University of Hamburg

Ghayat al-Amani fi al-Istimta` bi al-Jawari Or, Sexual Pleasure and Slave Concubinage: Nazar, Mass and Wat’ in Islamic Law from the Formative Period to ISIS

Omar Anchassi, University of Exeter

The free/slave binary is one of the key pivots about which Islamic Law turns.  This paper explores this distinction as it pertains to interactions with slave-concubines, focussing on the rulings of looking (nazar), touching (mass) and sexual intercourse (wat’) in the history of Islamic legal discourse.  These actions are variously categorised according to the position of the actor(s) in question.  Throughout, jurists attempt to negotiate competing priorities; are slaves are to be regarded more as property or as essentially human?  Are (Muslim) slave-concubines to be afforded the same protections granted to free, believing women?  These questions first emerge in the formative era, as reflected in such sources as al-Shafi`i’s al-Umm and the Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq, and are discussed at length in a number of genres from the classical to the modern period.  This paper will investigate diachronic shifts in this discourse, culminating in the ISIS booklet on the subject, which draws freely on this heritage.

Islamist Thinkers as Organic Intellectuals – A Gramscian Approach

Massimo Ramaioli, Syracuse University

The conceptual vocabulary of (neo)Gramscian theory has been variously deployed to analyze different instances of Islamist politics in the Arab and Muslim worlds: hegemony, counter hegemony, and civil society (Butko, 2004; Kandil, 2011); global political economy and orientalism (Pasha, 2006); social movements (Bayat, 2005, 2007, 2013; Tugal, 2009). While the literature on Gramscian intellectuals is vast and evolving (Karabel, 1976, 1996; Brym, 2001; Olsaretti, 2014), these efforts have not contributed to the study of Islamism. In particular, the concept of intellectuals and the famous distinction between traditional and organic have not informed any sustained theoretical inquiry concerning Islamist politics. In this paper, I utilize Gramscian insights on the intellectuals as a class-bound social actor to better understand the emergence, working and impact of Islamist thinkers in the contemporary Arab Muslim Middle East. To that end, I offer a discussion of the Jordanian Salafi movement during the first half of the 1990s. I submit that Islamist thinkers and ideologues represent Gramscian ‘organic intellectuals.’ They emerge within specific historical social formations and contribute providing coherence, purpose and rationale for social and political mobilization. Ultimately, they conjure up an ideological construct that challenges the fundamental tenets of official state discourse, based on alternative and competing claims to the definition and function of Islam.

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Muslim Emigration to the West According to the Jurisprudence of the Saudi Permanent Committee for Fatwas and Research

Carlo DeAngelo, University of Naples “L’Orientale”

The purpose of this article is to look instead at Muslim emigration to the West from the perspective of Islamic law. More specifically, I shall examine the emigration of Muslims to non-Islamic lands from the viewpoint of the jurists who belong to one of the currents of Salafism, the purist one. Indeed, they identified Western countries as places of moral and spiritual perdition, and believe that Muslim should not live in them and should stay clear of them, or, if they cannot do so, to minimize relations with the surrounding society by creating actual enclaves.  The aim of this work is to analyze the responses that were issued by the Saudi Committee for Fatwas and Research, whose members adhere to the purist current of Salafism.  In particular, I will examine the fat…w… that this Committee issued concerning the migration of Muslims to non-Islamic countries. In so doing I will try to answer two specific and closely related questions: what are the conditions that a Muslim must fulfill in order to be granted the opportunity to travel, temporarily or permanently, to a non-Islamic land? And again: what are the objectives whose realization is believed to legitimate migration to d…r al-kufr?

Navigating Bodies: The Debate on Sex-Reassignment Surgery in Islamic Law

Serena Tolino, University of Hamburg

In this paper I intend to discuss the metaphorical “migration” of transgender and intersexual people from one sex to the other. To do so, I will focus on the current debate on sex-reassignment surgery in Islamic law.  Generally speaking, changing one’s sex is forbidden in Islamic Law, as it constitutes a change in God’s creation. Therefore, it is usually not allowed to transgender people (an umbrella term which refers to all those persons whose gender identity or gender expression do not match their biological sex).  Sunn? jurists, however, agree that sex-reassignment surgery is allowed, and becomes even mandatory, when it is practiced on an intersex (a person which has sex characteristics that do not fit the “typical” binary of male/female bodies). In this case, sex-reassignment surgery is not understood as a way to “change” the sex, but as a way to reveal the “real” sex. In shi‘? law the situation is different: Iran is one of the countries where more sex change operations are carried out, and sex-reassignment surgery is not only allowed, but even subsidised by the State for intersexual and transgender people.  In this paper I will investigate the contemporary debate on the topic, shedding light on the argumentations used by the different jurists and on what they can tell us in terms of body politics and regulation of sexuality.