Our November Book of the Month is Islamic Law and Human Rights: The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by Moataz El Fegiery.
For many, the Muslim Brotherhood was merely part and parcel of the so-called Arab Spring in Egypt; Mohamed Morsi becoming Egypt’s first president to take office following an election in 2012. However, in this courageous and carefully constructed book El Fegiery proposes that the Brotherhood has exacerbated, rather than diminished, the tensions and contradictions between Islamic law and human rights in Egypt. In 340 pages of measured prose, he unfolds an argument that the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideal of the Shari’a state cannot bring the peace and prosperity that the people of Egypt deserve.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its scholars have drawn on hard-line juristic opinions and reinvented certain concepts from Islamic traditions in ways that limit the scope of various human rights, and advocate for Islamic alternatives to international human rights. Their practices in opposition and in power have been consistent with its literature. As an opposition party, it embraced human rights language in its struggle against an authoritarian regime, but advocated for broad restrictions on certain rights. However, its recent and short-lived experience in power provides evidence of its inclination to reinforce restrictions on religious freedom, freedom of expression and association, and the rights of religious minorities, and to reverse previous reforms related to women’s rights. Ultimately, the book explores the prospects for certain constitutional and institutional measures to facilitate an evolutionary interpretation of Islamic law, provide a baseline of human rights and gradually integrate international human rights into Egyptian law.
To find out more, please click here to read a sample extract and contents page.
We are offering all of our readers a generous 60% discount on this important and bold book. To redeem your discount, please enter the promotional code BOMNOV18 during checkout. Please note that this is a time-limited offer that will expire on 1st December 2018.
Books such as this one can draw polarised responses, but see below for some of the praise El Fegiery’s work has received:
"Moataz El Fegiery’s book is a well-researched study that provides useful insights to comprehend the role of Islamists around the world. It is a remarkable treatise that addresses some of the crucial matters with respect to the influence of religious laws on the structure and content of a country’s constitution and analyzes it within a broader international framework of human rights."
--Sania Ismailee, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online, 5:12 (2017)
"Offering an important and insightful examination of Egypt's agonizing struggles to define the Islam-state relationship, El Fegiery probes the political and legal dimensions of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood's campaigns for Islamization and their implications for human rights. The Brotherhood's calls for upholding Islamic law are assessed as being misleading, the underlying goal being more a determination to resist Western culture and uphold a distinctive vision of Islamic identity than an actual concern to implement Islamic teachings. The Brotherhood's recent claims to respect human rights are debunked, with El Fegiery citing its attempts when in power in 2012-2013 to impose a retrograde version of Islamic law at the expense of human rights—at the same time that some other Islamic institutions were moving towards accommodating human rights. How can Egypt move beyond a stalemate where liberals and the Brotherhood press irreconcilable agendas, aggravating hostilities and polarization? Offering what is sure to be a controversial proposal, El Fegiery argues that it is counterproductive to insist on secularization or to exclude the Brotherhood from politics, calling for allowing the Brotherhood's continued participation, and he advocates retaining constitutional references to Islam – albeit ones balanced by strong constitutional protections for human rights. For readers in fields like Middle Eastern politics and history, contemporary Islam, constitutionalism in Egypt, and human rights, the assessments are sure to be of great interest."
--Ann Mayer, Associate Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, University of Pennsylvania
"Though the focus of this book is on Egypt and on the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is a highly topical and interesting study of interest for all those engaged in the study of democracy and human rights under the conditions of the popular call for the implementation of Shari‘a by Islamist movements. The study of El Fegiery matters to all who try to understand the nature of Islamist movements worldwide."
--Professor Bassam Tibi, University of Goettingen
"This book offers a thorough analysis of the conceptual and theoretical issues about religion and human rights in general and studies major issues such as the supremacy of Sharia, political pluralism, freedom of opinion, minority rights, conversion and apostasy, and family law. [...] The book is a valuable contribution to recent critical analyses of Islamism as it is not linked to its ideology. Taking human rights and Islamic law as the context of the Islamist discourse, it has been able to observe the significant tension between idealism and activism."
--Muhammad Khalid Masud, Former chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Dawn, 26.02.2017
"The Foreword to the book, written by the eminent contemporary political scientist, Bassam Tibi, excellently reflects the crux of Fegiery’s work and endorses both his arguments as well as his findings. The subsequent nine chapters of the book successfully portray the ambivalence in the thought and practice of the world’s most influential Islamist movement towards various aspects of human rights.The significance of the book lies in its examination and exposition of how human rights language is exploited at the hands of Islamists to oppose an existing regime and then violated when they themselves rise to power."
--Gowhar Quadir Wani, Aligarh Muslim University, Islam and Civilizational Renewal 9/1 (2018)