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Arguing Islam after the Revival of Arab Politics$
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Nathan J. Brown

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190619428

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190619428.001.0001

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The Public Politics of the Private Realm

The Public Politics of the Private Realm

(p.181) Chapter 7 The Public Politics of the Private Realm
Arguing Islam after the Revival of Arab Politics

Nathan Brown

Oxford University Press

Religion weaves together public and private concerns, making relations among family members a matter of public discussion and contestation. After some general reflections on the nature of personal status debates, this chapter examines how the Islamic shari‘a gives individuals seeking to negotiate family relations in public settings a starting point. It considers fatwas, an odd combination of public and private argumentation where moral authority is detached from enforceability. It next considers instances in which binding and coercive state authority is invoked in personal status matters in courts of law. It examines the adjudication of disputes, and shows that those using the courts, unlike fatwa seekers, often fail to understand public teachings about their own proper behavior and instead are able to manipulate them to serve their own private interests. Finally, it assesses the politics of the Islamic shari‘a in the Arab world today, focusing on the experiences of Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco.

Keywords:   public arguments, public sphere, private life, Islamic shari‘a, Islam, family relations, fatwas, personal status law, religion, Arab politics

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