Professor Javaid Rehman, Dr Amir Ali Majid Professor Shaheen Sardar Ali Dr Ayesha Shahid
This special edition of the Journal of Islamic State Practices in International Law (JISPIL) offers a collection of papers, presented at an international conference ‘Exploring New Directions in the Islamic Legal Tradition(s): Human Rights and Legal Reform in the 21st Century’ hosted by the Brunel Law School in June 2013. The conference was well attended by academics, human rights activists, solicitors, research students both from Brunel University and universities across the UK as well as by other members of the public interested in Islamic law and human rights.
The objective of this conference was to open up spaces for academic dialogue, to remove misconceptions and to explore progressive, creative, and innovative ways of engagement with Shari’a in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of both western human rights and Islamic legal tradition. There has been an on-going debate as to whether Shar’ia can coexist with human rights, secularism, democracy, or even modernity and how far the western conception of human rights and Islamic teachings can converge and is there a room for change within the Shari’a itself? Prof Shaheen Ali the Keynote speaker at the conference proposed that a ‘bottom-up’ contextual methodology towards ‘textual’ Islamic law could offer a more grounded understanding in developing responses to contemporary challenges in Islamic law. In an attempt to explore new directions within the Islamic legal tradition(s) she applies her proposed methodology to examine the relationships between Islamic law and human rights. She also explores the interaction of Islamic legal thought and recent scientific developments by using the example of DNA testing and its implications on Islamic family law. Finally she discusses the current issues faced by the Muslim communities living in Non Muslim jurisdictions.