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The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State
Noah Feldman

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [HTML] or [PDF format]
A Q&A with author Noah Feldman


"[A] concise and thoughtful history of the evolution of the Islamic legal system from the time of the first caliphs (the successors to the prophet Muhammad) to our own....Feldman thinks that the restoration of the authority of sharia in modern Muslim-majority nations might be the only way for them to move beyond their current democracy deficits....Feldman is not so naive as to give them a free pass. Nor does he ignore the democratic deficiencies of the two nations, Iran and Saudi Arabia, that have sharia as the law of the land. While saying that principles of sharia will have to become part of the constitutional fabric of modern Islamic states, he adds that this will work only if Islamists find new institutions to give life to sharia."--Jay Tolson, U.S. News & World Report

"Feldman condemns the autocracies in many Muslim countries but argues that sharia is not to blame. On the contrary, he says, in the traditional Sunni constitutional order, sharia was interpreted by an independent class of scholars who served as a check on tyrrany, preventing rulers from exploiting religion to justify their political positions."--Washington Post Book World

"Feldman can be an illuminating analyst . . . on the subject of the marginalization of legal scholars and its consequences for the development of despotisms with an Islamic face."--Commentary

"Feldman argues that legislators seeking implementation of a sharia-based rule of law can play the role of earlier scholars in taming executive autocracy. . . . [Offers] wide-ranging discussions and nuanced reasoning."--L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

"[An] excellent contribution to the ongoing discussion on Islam and secular states."--Abdulkader Tayob, International Affairs

"A study of the recrudescence of 'Islamist' thought, which advocates the return to a shari'a state. . . . The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State is profound, intelligent, and free of all the hysterical pronouncements one often associates with both the defenders and antagonists of that idea."--Arnold Ages, Chicago Jewish Star

"This is a fascinating book for the counselor and statesperson, and is a sequel to a former book dealing with Islam and democracy."--Imtiaz Jafar, New York Law Journal

"Powerfully argued and original. . . . [T]his book has the considerable merit of seeing inside the Islamist mentality."--Anthony Black, Political Studies Review

"The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State provide[s] an accessible and engaging account of the institutional struggles and changes which befall Islamic constitutionalism from the Ottoman era to the present. . . . [T]he book intended for both academic and non-academic audiences makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature on Islamic law and constitutionalism."--Shadi Mokhtari, Law and Politics Book Review

"Whether you agree or disagree with Professor Feldman about what constitutes an Islamic state, you will most likely be captivated by the author's scholarly reflections."--Abdullahi A. Gallab, Journal of Law & Religion

"[T]his book is an insightful work with many original and fresh ideas and arguments about the rebirth and rise of the Islamic state in the modern Muslim world which has gained momentum after the 'Arab Spring'."--Tauseef Ahmad Parra, Muslim World Book Review


"In Feldman's fascinating intellectual journey through history, Islamic law, and modern politics, you will discover the power of 'justice.' It is both the driving force behind efforts in the Arab world to democratize, constitutionalize, and modernize Islam, and a weapon for the worst kind of abuses and authoritarianism. Feldman's book works through these tensions between theology and power with consummate dispassion and scholarship."--Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and former New York Times columnist

"Noah Feldman has raised a central discussion in Islam about the nature of the Islamic state that is too often missed or misunderstood. Regardless of ideological or religious affiliation, the reader needs to engage with Feldman's clear and sympathetic arguments in order to make sense of what is happening in the Muslim world today."--Akbar S. Ahmed, American University

"Scholarly and sophisticated yet highly accessible, this book makes an extremely important contribution to contemporary discussions of both Muslim politics and Islamic law. Feldman's work provides a historical depth that has often been lacking in studies of law and constitutionalism in modern Muslim societies."--Muhammad Qasim Zaman, author of The Ulama in Contemporary Islam

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File created: 4/21/2017

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