Keywords: Muslim, ethics, law, secularism, pluralism, morality, modernity, liberalism, civil society, din, dunya, Weltanschauung, umma, ‘adl (justice), siyasa shari’a, Orientalism, Gellner, Keane, human rights, ijtihad, public sphere, democracy, Qur’an, dawla, akhlaq.
Abstract: Liberal perspectives on civil society tend to consign ethical issues to the private sphere, in keeping with the Euro-American ethos of a secular public culture. This article offers a Muslim perspective that argues in favour of an ethically-engaged public sphere, yet one that takes on board human rights and the rule of law, and is sympathetic to communitarian values.
Amyn B. Sajoo is a Scholar-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies in Vancouver, Canada. A specialist in international human rights, civil society and public ethics, Dr Sajoo was educated at King's College London and McGill University, Montreal. He has taught at the University of British Columbia, McGill, Simon Fraser University and The Institute of Ismaili Studies, and was a 2005 Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University.
Dr Sajoo earlier served as a human rights advisor with the Canadian department of Justice in Ottawa. He also served as a Canada-ASEAN Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, where his fieldwork in Indonesia and Malaysia culminated in the monograph Pluralism in Old Societies and New States (1994). He subsequently led a comparative civil society seminar project at the IIS, and was editor of the ensuing volume, Civil Society in the Muslim World: Contemporary Perspectives (2002).
As the chief editor of the IIS’ Muslim Heritage Series, Dr Sajoo launched A Companion to the Muslim World in 2009, which was followed by A Companion to Muslim Ethics in 2010 and A Companion to Muslim Cultures in 2011. His work on plural modernities resulted in the edited volume Muslim Modernities: Expressions of the Civil Imagination in 2008. Dr Sajoo is the author of Muslim Ethics: Emerging Vistas (2004), and has contributed extensively to scholarly journals and anthologies, as well as to the newsmedia on both sides of the Atlantic - including the Guardian, the Globe & Mail, the Times Higher Education Supplement, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The latest volume in the Muslim Heritage Series, published in 2018 is The Shari‘a: History, Ethics and Law