Sharia, Family, and Democracy

This project, conducted from 2010-2012, examined how Western democracies with Muslim minorities can have a productive conversation with Muslim countries that implemented Shari’a, particularly on issues of marriage and family law. The core question of the project was whether there can be a responsible jurisdictional pluralism of religious and legal norms in domestic relations that respects both the religious freedom concerns of religious communities and rule of law concerns of the state. With its nearly even division between Muslims and Christians and the implementation of Shari’a in the Northern States beginning in 1999, Nigeria has become a focal point for these debates. The implementation of Shari’a in Nigeria has raised important questions concerning plural legal and religious norms of marriage and family, the religious identity and inter-communal relations of Muslims and Christians, and the possibility of a moderate form of Shari’a existing in a pluralistic, democratic state. These questions arose in the context of Nigeria’s 2011 elections, a decade of inter-communal violence, and concerns about the implications of Shari’a for the rights of women and children. In this project, a diverse group of scholars in law, religion, and the social sciences from around the world examined the possibilities for a peaceful reconciliation to the ongoing contestation over Shari’a in Nigeria in the area of family law law–and the lessons that Shari’a in Nigeria may hold for other nations and legal systems. The project was funded by the Social Science Research Council.


Project Website Archive: “Shari’a, Family, and Democracy in Nigeria and Beyond”

Editor with Abdullahi An-Na’im and John Witte, Jr. Special Issue on “Religious Norms and Family Law in Pluralistic Democratic States,” Emory International Law Review (forthcoming Fall 2011)

“Religion, Family Law, and the Recognition of Identity in Nigeria,” Emory International Law Review (forthcoming 2011)

“Shari’a in America?: Rhetoric and Reality,” Sharia, Family, and Democracy in Nigeria and Beyond(Atlanta: Center for the Study of Law and Religion, December 11, 2010)

“Recent Forum on Nigeria: Religion, Family, and the Weakened State,” Sharia, Family, and Democracy in Nigeria and Beyond (Atlanta: Center for the Study of Law and Religion, December 3, 2010)

“Moderate Sharia in the Secular State?” Sharia, Family, and Democracy in Nigeria and Beyond (Atlanta: Center for the Study of Law and Religion, November 5, 2010)