Are Western and Islamic political and constitutional ideas truly predestined for civilizational clash? In order to understand this controversy The Concert of Civilizations begins by deriving and redefining a definition of constitutionalism that is suitable for comparative, cross-cultural analysis. The rule of law, reflection of national character, and the clear delineation and limitation of governmental power are used as lenses through which thinkers like Cicero, Montesquieu, and the authors of The Federalist Papers can be read alongside al-Farabi, ibn Khaldun, and the Ottoman Tanzimat decrees. Bridging the civilizational divide is a chapter comparing the Magna Carta with Muhammad’sConstitution of Medina, as both documents can be seen as foundational within their traditions. For the first time in political theory, this text also provides a sustained, detailed analysis of Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi’s book The Surest Path, which explains his fusion of Muslim and Western ideas in his writing of Tunisia’s first modern constitution, which is also the first constitution for a majority-Muslim state. Finally, the book discusses the Arab Spring through a brief overview of the revolutions in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, and offers some early thoughts about Tunisia’s uniquely successful revolution.
’This volume provides a highly inspiring discussion for scholars seeking to understand the roots and evolution of constitutionalism, freed from a Euro-centric straitjacket. A must-read work for both political scientists and historians looking for a new research paradigm in the globalized world.’ Bee Yun, Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea ’This book is path-breaking not only because it compares Islamic Constitutionalism, which theorizes legal practices of millennia old Middle Eastern states, with much younger Western jurisprudence. But also because it faces the paradox that orientalist and neo-colonial interventions have made it inconceivable to most people that the Middle East could ever have enjoyed rule of law. These neo-colonial interventions had the power to change reality on the ground with the consequence that the Arab Spring, that great rebellion against the new realities of Middle Eastern post-colonial authoritarian states, has now created a new set of realities. Is Islamic rule of law retrievable? And can it ever again be reconciled with Western jurisprudence?’ Patricia Springborg, Humboldt University, Germany