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The legal transplant in the Arab world, perhaps even in the Islamic world writ large, hasn’t had much luck by way of close study in US legal academia. Compared to its scholarly treatment in other non-Western contexts, such as Latin America and East Asia, the absence is glaring. This was not for want of scholarly interest in law in the Arab/Islamic world. Much has been published on Arab constitutions for instance, and you’ve had a few speakers in this lecture series, opine on the topic. Nor has there been lack of scholarly interest in types of legislation that had become symptomatic of our globalized world over the past two decades: foreign investment laws, intellectual property laws, oil and gas laws, and one must not forget that most unsavory yet pressing subject, national security and anti-terrorism laws. Rather, what is glaringly absent is the study of the “European Code”, the privileged form in which the legal transplant was first introduced only to become the permanent and defining feature of the contemporary legal system.

There is a simple reason for this and I will state it bluntly. It is because Islamist scholars and their non-Muslim academic sympathizers either liberals with strong multicultural tendencies or “traditionalists” hostile to the modern nation state, have hogged the study of law in the Arab/Islamic world. A consensus of sorts has for long emerged among this block of scholars that the legal transplant was a colonial imposition that has displaced, with tragic consequences according to these scholars, the organic law of the Muslim. It is the latter that is worthy of study, typically referred to by them as “Islamic law”.

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Lama Abu-Odeh, Who Cares About Islamic Law?, Al-Jumhuriya, June 20, 2017