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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sharia Incorporated

One of the newest additions to the O'Quinn Law Library is a very informative work entitled Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. Edited by Jan Michiel Otto, Professor of Law and Governance in Developing Countries at Leiden University and Director of the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance, and Development, this book examines how sharia law has been incorporated into the national legal systems of twelve Muslim nations.

Outside of an introductory chapter that establishes the groundwork for the analyses to follow and a final chapter that offers some preliminary conclusions, each chapter, written by scholars from around the world, focuses on one Muslim nation. The chapter provides a historical overview of the development of that nation's legal system before examining how sharia law manifests itself in various legal contexts, such as constitutional law, criminal law, family law, commercial law, and international treaty and human rights obligations. Each chapter also includes a respectable bibliography. In addition, the book provides a few tables that compare the twelve nations and their legal systems on specific issues as well as a very helpful glossary that provides definitions for many relevant (transliterated) Arabic words.

Although it is a comparative text at heart, it's value as a resource is immense. Want a quick glance at the legal system in Saudi Arabia? This book is for you. Want quick information on inheritance rights in Turkey? This book's for you. Want to get a sense of how Pakistan and Morroco compare on the recognition of human rights? This book's for you. Just want to get a better understanding of what exactly "sharia law" is anyway? This book's for you.

Unfortunately, this work was completed and published in 2010, so it does not take into account the revolutionary events of the Arab Spring. Still, it contains a mountain of information in easy-to-digest chunks. It's definitely worth a look.

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