Legal Debates on Muslim Minorities: Between Rejection and Accommodation

Journal of Religious Ethics 22 (1):127 - 162 (1994)
A growing discourse in Europe and North America focuses on questions of the religious and political status of Muslim minorities. This essay tries to bring some historical perspective to current discussions, surveying the ways premodern Muslim jurists approached issues pertaining to Muslims living in non-Muslim territories. As the historical material indicates, Muslim juridical opinion on these matters is very diverse. Individual jurists, while working within one or another of the broad traditions of Islamic jurisprudence (Shafi'i, Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, or Shi'i), have felt free to craft opinions designed to fit specific situations. Given such variety, I conclude by echoing the judgment given by Rashid Rida earlier in this century: In the final analysis, specific Muslim minorities are the best judges of their own particular situations.
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