This is a bracing, erudite, and compelling account of the moral, political, and structural features of Islamic governance and the modern state, as well as of the multiple incongruities that hamper any attempt to establish one in terms of the other. Wael Hallaq delivers a welcome rejoinder to much of the dogmatic bluster swirling around the subject of shari'a and the Islamic state. At the same time, he brings into sharp focus the often overlooked resources for reconceptualizing 'the modern project' from within both Islamic and Euro-American traditions of moral and political thought. The historical, theoretical, and political richness of this account makes The Impossible State a new standard against which any claims about the possibility of establishing Islamic governance in the contemporary world must now be evaluated. -- Roxanne L. Euben, Wellesley College A provocative and wide-ranging rumination by one of the leading scholars of Islamic law, this book poses tough questions to champions and critics of shari'a alike. Wael Hallaq makes a powerful argument for the relevance of shari'a as a moral discourse while remaining critical of its compatibility with the modern state. The Impossible State is bound to elicit debate among scholars of Islam, moral philosophy, and modernity across the Western and non-Western divide. -- Saba Mahmood, author of Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject It is an important contribution to understanding the role and potential of the shari'a in the modern world. -- Mark D. Welton Middle East Journal A philosophical and rhetorical tour de force. Choice A refreshing take on the modern state and Islamic governance... Middle East Media and Book Reviews This book brings a detailed and impassioned exploration of key debates in Islamic law and governance into sustained conversation with canonical texts in Western political and legal theory... The Impossible State makes an important theoretical contribution. -- Iza Hussin Perspectives on Politics An important, bold, and courageous intervention that stands out not just in contemporary debates on the Shari'ah in the West and the Muslim world, but in all modern writing about the subject. American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences
About the Author
Wael Hallaq is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and has previously taught at McGill University, where he was named a James McGill Professor in Islamic Studies. Hallaq's research spans several fields, including law, legal theory, philosophy, political theory, and logic, and his publications include Shari'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations; An Introduction to Islamic Law; and Authority, Continuity, and Change in Islamic Law. His works have been translated into several languages, including Arabic, Indonesian, Hebrew, Japanese, Persian, Turkish, and Russian.