What "Islamic Reformation," the reader might correctly ask? Despite the eccentric title, this multi-author work has an unusually interesting assortment of essays. Here are three: Rudolph Peters traces the complex transformation of the Shari‘a (Islamic law) "from jurists' law to statute law." For centuries, the Shari‘a consisted of "open, discursive, and contractory" scholarly discussions of jurisprudence—not something readily applicable in a court of law. Peters shows the wrenching that this tradition underwent so as to fit the needs of a state system. He also notes the improbable but possible eventuality of a democratic Muslim state deciding the specifics of the Shari‘a via the electoral box.
Ann Elizabeth Mayer adopts the tripartite schema of Italian scholar Ugo Mattei, whereby the law is either traditional (small-scale, families as the basic unit, gender distinctions emphasized), political (law courts as the servants of the ruler), or professional (independent judiciary, rule of law). She establishes that much of the Muslim world suffers from political law; to escape it, Islamists are proposing an impossible return to the golden age of traditional law via the Shari‘a. In fact, she asserts—and is roundly seconded by the Iranian dissidents she cites—the real need is to move ahead to the rule of law.
Rodney Wilson reviews and explains the grudging policies of the Egyptian and Saudi governments to the emergence of Islamic financial institutions. So uneasy were the Egyptian authorities with this somewhat out-of-control phenomenon that they prevailed on a leading religious figure, Muhammad Sayyid at-Tantawi, to rule that interest paid by conventional banks does not constitute usury. Ironically, the Saudis have a hard time with Islamic banks because their whole system is supposedly Islamic already; creating explicitly Islamic institutions implies that the others are not.