Western analysts have long denigrated Islamic states as antagonistic, even antithetical, to the rule of law. Mark Fathi Massoud tells a different story: for nearly 150 years, the Somali people have embraced shari’a, commonly translated as Islamic law, in the struggle for national identity and human rights. Lawyers, community leaders, and activists throughout the Horn of Africa have invoked God to oppose colonialism, resist dictators, expel warlords, and to fight for gender equality – all critical steps on the path to the rule of law. Shari’a, Inshallah traces the most dramatic moments of legal change, political collapse, and reconstruction in Somalia and Somaliland. In Shari’a, Inshallah: Finding God in Somali Legal Politics (Cambridge UP, 2021), Massoud upends the conventional account of secular legal progress and demonstrates instead how faith in a higher power guides people toward the rule of law.
Mark Fathi Massoud is professor of politics and legal studies at UC Santa Cruz, where he directs the Legal Studies Program and serves as affiliated faculty with the Center for the Middle East and North Africa. Massoud also holds an appointment as a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford.
Sara Katz is a Postdoctoral Associate in the History Department at Duke University.
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