European Journal of Political Theory 10 (2):177-201 (2011)
Tariq Ramadan’s recent book, Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation, boldly proclaims the need for Muslims to completely rethink the very meaning of Islamic law, traditionally the preeminent Islamic normative discourse and a primary distinguishing feature of Islam from other religions, replacing it with a more ecumenical applied ethics. He begins the book by rejecting the moderate reformist methods adopted in his previous books as insufficient for the ‘radical reform’ of their epistemologies and mentalities which he believes contemporary Muslims must undertake. It is tempting, therefore, to see this work as a radical break with Law. In this article, I offer a different interpretation. On my reading, throughout his previous works Ramadan systematically advanced and elevated a certain interpretation of Law, based on an appropriation of certain concepts taken from mainstream Islamic legal theory and crucial to the efforts of all reformist thinkers. It is these concepts, which he retains but completely recasts, which mediate his move to a post-legal Islamic ethics. I argue that Ramadan’s long-term project neither merely abandons Islamic law, nor merely reforms it, but dissolves the framework of Law through its own devices
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