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The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State Paperback – 26 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New introduction by the author edition (26 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691156247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691156248
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

The growing clamor for a return to Sharia law in the Muslim world has often been met with alarm by the West. But Feldman remains coolheaded, placing the movement in a historical context and suggesting that its ideal of 'a just legal system, one that administers the law fairly, ' is an understandable goal in a region dominated by unchecked oligarchies. -- "New Yorker

In a short, incisive and elegant book, [Feldman] lays out for the non-specialist reader some of the forms that Islamic rule has taken over the centuries, while also stressing the differences between today's politican Islam and previous forms of Islamic administration. -- "The Economist

Feldman condemns the autocracies in many Muslim countries but argues that sharia is not to blame. On the contrary, he says, in the traditional Sunni constitutional order, sharia was interpreted by an independent class of scholars who served as a check on tyrrany, preventing rulers from exploiting religion to justify their political positions. -- "Washington Post Book World

Feldman can be an illuminating analyst . . . on the subject of the marginalization of legal scholars and its consequences for the development of despotisms with an Islamic face. -- "Commentary

[A] concise and thoughtful history of the evolution of the Islamic legal system from the time of the first caliphs (the successors to the prophet Muhammad) to our own....Feldman thinks that the restoration of the authority of sharia in modern Muslim-majority nations might be the only way for them to move beyond their current democracy deficits....Feldman is not so naive as to give them a free pass. Nor does he ignore the democratic deficiencies of the two nations, Iran and Saudi Arabia, that have sharia as the law of the land. While saying that principles of sharia will have to become part of the constitutional fabric of modern Islamic states, he adds that this will work only if Islamists find new institutions to give life to sharia.--Jay Tolson "U.S. News & World Report "

In a short but masterful exposition, "The Fall and Rise of The Islamic State", Noah Feldman seeks to answer a question that puzzles most Western observers: Why do so many Muslims demand the 'restoration' of a legal system that most Occidentals associate with 'medieval' punishments such as amputation for theft and stoning for sexual transgressions?--Malise Ruthven "New York Review of Books "

Feldman argues that legislators seeking implementation of a sharia-based rule of law can play the role of earlier scholars in taming executive autocracy. . . . [Offers] wide-ranging discussions and nuanced reasoning.--L. Carl Brown "Foreign Affairs "

A thoughtful meditation on the history, ideals, and revival of sharia--the divine law governing Muslim society... It is abundantly clear that fresh models of governance in some Muslim nations will be required to build genuine consensus, afford legal justice, and guarantee peace and security... Feldman predicts success for those countries which can 'develop new institutions that would find their own original and distinctive way of giving real life to the ideals of Islamic law.' ... A persuasive and readable book on a complex topic.--Joseph Richard Preville "Christian Science Monitor "

Whether you agree or disagree with Professor Feldman about what constitutes an Islamic state, you will most likely be captivated by the author's scholarly reflections.--Abdullahi A. Gallab "Journal of Law & Religion "

A study of the recrudescence of 'Islamist' thought, which advocates the return to a shari'a state. . . . "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" is profound, intelligent, and free of all the hysterical pronouncements one often associates with both the defenders and antagonists of that idea.--Arnold Ages "Chicago Jewish Star "

[An] excellent contribution to the ongoing discussion on Islam and secular states.--Abdulkader Tayob "International Affairs "

This is a fascinating book for the counselor and statesperson, and is a sequel to a former book dealing with Islam and democracy.--Imtiaz Jafar "New York Law Journal "

Powerfully argued and original. . . . [T]his book has the considerable merit of seeing inside the Islamist mentality.--Anthony Black "Political Studies Review "

"The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" provide[s] an accessible and engaging account of the institutional struggles and changes which befall Islamic constitutionalism from the Ottoman era to the present. . . . [T]he book intended for both academic and non-academic audiences makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature on Islamic law and constitutionalism.--Shadi Mokhtari "Law and Politics Book Review "


"The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" provide[s] an accessible and engaging account of the institutional struggles and changes which befall Islamic constitutionalism from the Ottoman era to the present. . . . [T]he book intended for both academic and non-academic audiences makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature on Islamic law and constitutionalism.--Shadi Mokhtari "Law and Politics Book Review "


In a short but masterful exposition, "The Fall and Rise of The Islamic State", Noah Feldman seeks to answer a question that puzzles most Western observers: Why do so many Muslims demand the 'restoration' of a legal system that most Occidentals associate with 'medieval' punishments such as amputation for theft and stoning for sexual transgressions?
--Malise Ruthven "New York Review of Books "


[A] concise and thoughtful history of the evolution of the Islamic legal system from the time of the first caliphs (the successors to the prophet Muhammad) to our own....Feldman thinks that the restoration of the authority of sharia in modern Muslim-majority nations might be the only way for them to move beyond their current democracy deficits....Feldman is not so naive as to give them a free pass. Nor does he ignore the democratic deficiencies of the two nations, Iran and Saudi Arabia, that have sharia as the law of the land. While saying that principles of sharia will have to become part of the constitutional fabric of modern Islamic states, he adds that this will work only if Islamists find new institutions to give life to sharia.
--Jay Tolson "U.S. News & World Report "


Whether you agree or disagree with Professor Feldman about what constitutes an Islamic state, you will most likely be captivated by the author's scholarly reflections.
--Abdullahi A. Gallab "Journal of Law & Religion "


A thoughtful meditation on the history, ideals, and revival of sharia--the divine law governing Muslim society... It is abundantly clear that fresh models of governance in some Muslim nations will be required to build genuine consensus, afford legal justice, and guarantee peace and security... Feldman predicts success for those countries which can 'develop new institutions that would find their own original and distinctive way of giving real life to the ideals of Islamic law.' ... A persuasive and readable book on a complex topic.
--Joseph Richard Preville "Christian Science Monitor "


Feldman argues that legislators seeking implementation of a sharia-based rule of law can play the role of earlier scholars in taming executive autocracy. . . . [Offers] wide-ranging discussions and nuanced reasoning.
--L. Carl Brown "Foreign Affairs "


[An] excellent contribution to the ongoing discussion on Islam and secular states.
--Abdulkader Tayob "International Affairs "


A study of the recrudescence of 'Islamist' thought, which advocates the return to a shari'a state. . . . "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" is profound, intelligent, and free of all the hysterical pronouncements one often associates with both the defenders and antagonists of that idea.
--Arnold Ages "Chicago Jewish Star "


This is a fascinating book for the counselor and statesperson, and is a sequel to a former book dealing with Islam and democracy.
--Imtiaz Jafar "New York Law Journal "


Powerfully argued and original. . . . [T]his book has the considerable merit of seeing inside the Islamist mentality.
--Anthony Black "Political Studies Review "



"The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" provide[s] an accessible and engaging account of the institutional struggles and changes which befall Islamic constitutionalism from the Ottoman era to the present. . . . [T]he book intended for both academic and non-academic audiences makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature on Islamic law and constitutionalism.
--Shadi Mokhtari "Law and Politics Book Review "

One of "Economist"s Best Books for 2008Winner of the 2008 PROSE Award in Government and Politics, Association of American Publishers

One of "Economist"'s Best Books for 2008Winner of the 2008 PROSE Award in Government and Politics, Association of American Publishers

One of "Economist"'s Best Books for 2008
Winner of the 2008 PROSE Award in Government and Politics, Association of American Publishers


One of "Economist"'s Best Books for 2008


Winner of the 2008 PROSE Award in Government and Politics, Association of American Publishers



One of "Economist"'s Best Books for 2008

Winner of the 2008 PROSE Award in Government and Politics, Association of American Publishers


"The growing clamor for a return to Shari'a law in the Muslim world has often been met with alarm by the West. But Feldman remains coolheaded, placing the movement in a historical context and suggesting that its ideal of 'a just legal system, one that administers the law fairly, ' is an understandable goal in a region dominated by unchecked oligarchies."--"New Yorker"

"In a short but masterful exposition, "The Fall and Rise of The Islamic State," Noah Feldman seeks to answer a question that puzzles most Western observers: Why do so many Muslims demand the 'restoration' of a legal system that most Occidentals associate with 'medieval' punishments such as amputation for theft and stoning for sexual transgressions?"--Malise Ruthven, "New York Review of Books"

"In a short, incisive and elegant book, [Feldman] lays out for the non-specialist reader some of the forms that Islamic rule has taken over the centuries, while also stressing the differences between today's politican Islam and previous forms of Islamic administration."--"The Economist"

"[A] concise and thoughtful history of the evolution of the Islamic legal system from the time of the first caliphs (the successors to the prophet Muhammad) to our own....Feldman thinks that the restoration of the authority of sharia in modern Muslim-majority nations might be the only way for them to move beyond their current democracy deficits....Feldman is not so naive as to give them a free pass. Nor does he ignore the democratic deficiencies of the two nations, Iran and Saudi Arabia, that have sharia as the law of the land. While saying that principles of sharia will have to become part of the constitutional fabric of modern Islamic states, he adds that this will work only if Islamists find new institutions to give life to sharia."--Jay Tolson, "U.S. News & World Report"

"Whether you agree or disagree with Professor Feldman about what constitutes an Islamic state, you will most likely be captivated by the author's scholarly reflections."--Abdullahi A. Gallab, "Journal of Law & Religion"

"A thoughtful meditation on the history, ideals, and revival of sharia--the divine law governing Muslim society... It is abundantly clear that fresh models of governance in some Muslim nations will be required to build genuine consensus, afford legal justice, and guarantee peace and security... Feldman predicts success for those countries which can 'develop new institutions that would find their own original and distinctive way of giving real life to the ideals of Islamic law.' ... A persuasive and readable book on a complex topic."--Joseph Richard Preville, "Christian Science Monitor"

"Feldman condemns the autocracies in many Muslim countries but argues that sharia is not to blame. On the contrary, he says, in the traditional Sunni constitutional order, sharia was interpreted by an independent class of scholars who served as a check on tyrrany, preventing rulers from exploiting religion to justify their political positions."--"Washington Post Book World"

"Feldman can be an illuminating analyst . . . on the subject of the marginalization of legal scholars and its consequences for the development of despotisms with an Islamic face."--"Commentary"

"Feldman argues that legislators seeking implementation of a sharia-based rule of law can play the role of earlier scholars in taming executive autocracy. . . . [Offers] wide-ranging discussions and nuanced reasoning."--L. Carl Brown, "Foreign Affairs"

"[An] excellent contribution to the ongoing discussion on Islam and secular states."--Abdulkader Tayob, "International Affairs"

"A study of the recrudescence of 'Islamist' thought, which advocates the return to a shari'a state. . . . "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" is profound, intelligent, and free of all the hysterical pronouncements one often associates with both the defenders and antagonists of that idea."--Arnold Ages, "Chicago Jewish Star"

"This is a fascinating book for the counselor and statesperson, and is a sequel to a former book dealing with Islam and democracy."--Imtiaz Jafar, "New York Law Journal"

"Powerfully argued and original. . . . [T]his book has the considerable merit of seeing inside the Islamist mentality."--Anthony Black, "Political Studies Review"

""The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" provide[s] an accessible and engaging account of the institutional struggles and changes which befall Islamic constitutionalism from the Ottoman era to the present. . . . [T]he book intended for both academic and non-academic audiences makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature on Islamic law and constitutionalism."--Shadi Mokhtari, "Law and Politics Book Review"

"Feldman's book is well worth considering, as it captures much of the current discourse within Islamist movements, particularly as many grapple with the sort of political evolution outlined here."--Anthony Smith, "New Zealand International Review"

"Perhaps no other Western writer has more deeply probed the bitter struggle in the Muslim world between the forces of religion and law and those of violence and lawlessness as Noah Feldman. His scholarship had defined the stakes in the Middle East today."--"World Book Industry"

From the Back Cover

"In Feldman's fascinating intellectual journey through history, Islamic law, and modern politics, you will discover the power of 'justice.' It is both the driving force behind efforts in the Arab world to democratize, constitutionalize, and modernize Islam, and a weapon for the worst kind of abuses and authoritarianism. Feldman's book works through these tensions between theology and power with consummate dispassion and scholarship."--Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and former "New York Times" columnist

"Noah Feldman has raised a central discussion in Islam about the nature of the Islamic state that is too often missed or misunderstood. Regardless of ideological or religious affiliation, the reader needs to engage with Feldman's clear and sympathetic arguments in order to make sense of what is happening in the Muslim world today."--Akbar S. Ahmed, American University

"Scholarly and sophisticated yet highly accessible, this book makes an extremely important contribution to contemporary discussions of both Muslim politics and Islamic law. Feldman's work provides a historical depth that has often been lacking in studies of law and constitutionalism in modern Muslim societies."--Muhammad Qasim Zaman, author of "The Ulama in Contemporary Islam"

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
nice read, the new 2012 intro is insightful, the book is a bit wordy but his general perspective on the situation is unique and refreshing. a must read for all interested in the topic.
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Fantastic book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8a8472a0) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bbf0150) out of 5 stars The Real Islamic State? 23 Jun. 2015
By MoseyOn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The first thing to point out is that Feldman’s book, published in 2008, is not about the so-called “Islamic State” operating with so much destructive vigor in Iraq and Syria. That organization (if it can be called that) has no claim to the word “state,” and little claim to the word “Islamic.” That it claims both suggests something about its degradation of both politics and religion. Feldman’s book is about the classical, pre-Ottoman Islamic state, its decline under the Ottomans, and the calls from some for the return of a strong presence for Islam in the state today. What he describes is very different from the shrill cries of fundamentalists with a distorted tunnel vision, or the misrepresentations of misinformed or willfully ignorant media commentators.

Much of Feldman’s account rests on the position of the class of scholars in the Islamic state. In the traditional Sunni order, he argues, the scholars, operating independently of the executive, were the guardians of the shariʽa. Their expertise in jurisprudence made them an indispensable component in a state and society that depended on shariʽa both for its legal and social norms and for the legitimacy that it granted (or, at least in theory, withheld from) the ruler. The scholars were not the source of the shariʽa, which emanated from God. Rather, they had the exclusive right to interpret the law. They also determined who would be recognized as a scholar with interpretive authority. In other words, they were dominant in questions of both state legitimacy and jurisprudence, checking the executive’s authoritarian tendencies while carefully guarding the prerogatives of their class.

The beginning of the end for the shariʽa as the backbone of jurisprudence was the Ottoman constitution of 1876. The crucial developments were the creation of an elected legislature, the appointing of judges outside the exclusive club of scholars, and the codification of law with the accompanying decline in the need for specialized interpreters. Judges became functionaries of state power and the law now emanated from the state rather than existing outside of it. The law no longer authorized the state, but was authorized by it. The end of the traditional Sunni constitutional order and the decline of shariʽa in the late Ottoman empire and in its post-World War I successor states meant that scholars were no longer needed to interpret the law and legitimize the state, and their ability to restrain executive power was effectively gone. The result of the marginalization of both shariʽa and the scholars who had traditionally interpreted and safeguarded it was, more often than not, states with little effective restraint on executive power. And with shariʽa’s role in legitimizing the executive’s rule severely attenuated, the stage was set for the contemporary call for a return of the Islamic state, meaning the re-centering of political and social life on a transcendent law to which not only the people, but their rulers as well are subject.

This does not explain the marauding Islamic State of today’s headlines, which appropriates some of the trappings of state structures and Islamic ideology in an attempt to create a veneer of legitimacy for a thuggish regime. Indeed, the calls for the return of a reasonable and balanced Islamic state form are largely drowned out by the brazen actions of those who have hijacked both power and religion. In the end, Feldman argues, what is needed is balance, something which the scholars traditionally provided but which is missing today, at least in the Sunni world. (The class continues today, in somewhat different form, in Shi’i Iran, but Feldman does not hold this up as an example of good or enlightened governance.) Neither the shariʽa itself nor the resurgence of the scholars as its guardian will, by themselves, ensure that the rule of law becomes the norm. To balance the shariʽa as a code of justice, there would have to be institutions powerful and credible enough to ensure that the rule of law does indeed operate to moderate executive power. Scholars are not a magical answer to the problems of majority-Muslim societies, and simply reinstituting their place in a constitutional order will not by itself create the conditions for justice, which is what the call for a return of shariʽa as the law of the land is really after. Any system that can deliver justice—economic justice, social justice—will likely find broad support among those who long for the world they have lost, even if their idealized version of that world never existed. But a state solidly anchored on principles of justice may be the best antidote to the visceral appeal and the raw violence of the pretenders to the legacy of Islamic state-making.

My chief criticism is that Feldman is probably quite selective in describing the elements of what he sees as the classical Islamic state. There were undoubtedly variations on the theme he outlines. Furthermore, even if one accepts that what he captures is the core of classical Islamic statecraft, it is unclear how deeply that core resides in the consciousness of those calling for a return to some form of an Islamic state today, even from a very moderate viewpoint. Just look at all the people in the US calling for a “return” to the “ideals of the Founding Fathers” with little understanding of the history of American statecraft and how ideals and reality shaped one another. But for an introduction to the foundations of Islamic statecraft, or to the differences between the headline-grabbing “Islamic State” and historical Islamic states, Feldman’s book is not a bad place to start.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ab6e798) out of 5 stars Very poor scholarship 19 Nov. 2015
By Dr Saqib Qureshi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a piece of scholarship, as a manuscript of academia, this is really very poor. Why? For a start, it's factually often incorrect. The lack of footnotes doesn't help either. The decline of the Caliphate almost definitely didn't start in the late nineteenth century, as suggested by the author, but several centuries prior. Then there's the incoherence of the core argument - there is simply no assessment of the 'fall' and 'rise'. What constitutes a fall and rise of a state, and when did the Caliphate hit those criteria? Finally, the writer is a lawyer .... the subject matter he engages lies somewhere amongst politics, military, economics, sociology, culture and technology (I am thinking about Paul Kennedy's Rise and Fall of Great Powers). To reduce the fall and rise of a state to only constitutional law (which is what the author does) is nothing short of polemical. It's plain extreme reductivist. I cannot remotely understand how this book got positive reviews speaks on its book cover.
3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a897ec4) out of 5 stars Is pretty clear Feldman sees Islam through rose colored glasses 10 May 2015
By LLaaja - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This guy is very bold in actually going out on a limb and making projections for the success of “Constitutional Islam” and the Arab “spring”. However two year after Feldman made his prognostications, every one failed to materialize. Is pretty clear Feldman sees Islam through rose colored glasses. Take the glasses off and you get Recep Erdogan or ISIS, take your pick….
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