Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam

African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 216
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam
    Book Description:

    Constitutionalism is steadily becoming the prevalent form of governance in Africa. But how does constitutionalism deal with the lingering effects of colonialism? And how does constitutional law deal with Islamic principles in the region? African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam seeks to answer these questions. Constitutional governance has not been, nor will be, easily achieved, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im argues. But setbacks and difficulties are to be expected in the process of adaptation and indigenization of an essentially alien concept-that of of nation-state-and its role in large-scale political and social organization. An-Na'im discusses the problems of implementing constitutionalized forms of government specific to Africa, from definitional to conceptual and practical issues. The role of Islam in these endeavors is open to challenge and reformulation, and should not be taken for granted or assumed to be necessarily negative or positive, An-Na'im asserts, and he emphasizes the role of the agency of Muslims in the process of adapting constitutionalism to the values and practices of their own societies. By examining the incremental successes that some African nations have already achieved and An-Na'im reveals the contingent role that Islam has to play in this process. Ultimately, these issues will determine the long-term sustainability of constitutionalism in Africa.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0111-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 Toward an Inclusive Theory of Constitutionalism
    (pp. 1-30)

    Available evidence regarding the constitutional experiences of most African countries indicates repeated failure or at least a protracted crisis. I will argue in this book that these experiences can and should be seen as part of processes of incremental success. As explained later, the notion of incremental success indicates the accumulation of experiences that are conducive to better and more sustainable implementation of the principles, institutions and mechanisms of constitutionalism over time, even though some experiences may be negative in the short term. A critical question to be addressed at subsequent stages of my analysis is how to assess or...

  5. Chapter 2 Elements of African Constitutionalism
    (pp. 31-62)

    In speaking of “African constitutionalism” throughout this book, I am neither implying that there is a specific type of constitutionalism that is peculiarly African, nor suggesting that the experience or feature I am discussing is true or applicable for the whole continent. In particular, the elements of precolonial and colonial experiences to be highlighted below, and the notion of “retrieval and imagining” proposed there, are not intended to suggest or imply a blanket application of these ideas in the same way throughout Africa. Rather, the adjective “African” is used to refer to a regional context, without minimizing the diversity within...

  6. Chapter 3 Evaluating Experiences in Incremental Success
    (pp. 63-98)

    As already indicated, the deeply contextual and incremental approach to African constitutionalism proposed here does not mean that the experiences of each country cannot be evaluated or improved, or that one has to wait for that to happen entirely on its own. Far from taking a fatalistic or deterministic view of the process, the object is to understand the role of various actors and forces, the combination of internal and external factors and dynamics that shape the development of constitutional governance in each setting in order to explore strategies for promoting the necessary norms and institutions. These processes must be...

  7. Chapter 4 The Contingent Role of Islam
    (pp. 99-131)

    In this chapter 1 introduce and try to clarify the notion of contingency as a possible framework for mediating tensions between traditional understandings of Islam, on the one hand, and modern principles of constitutionalism, on the other. This framework can contribute to facilitating the development of constitutionalism by enhancing its cultural and religious legitimacy in African Islamic societies. Here I am seeking to apply to African Islamic societies the same basic premise discussed earlier, namely, that the sustainable development of constitutionalism needs to come to terms with the indigenous values and institutions of those societies. This is not to say...

  8. Chapter 5 Islam and Constitutionalism in Sudan, Nigeria, and Senegal
    (pp. 132-159)

    In this chapter, I attempt to illustrate the contingency of the role of Islam with reference to certain aspects of the recent constitutional experiences of Sudan, Nigeria, and Senegal. While I have argued that evaluation of constitutional experiences should always be context specific, it is also part of my thesis that African countries can learn from the experiences of others, within the continent and beyond. Comparative analysis would be particularly useful in relation to a common factor or variable, like Islam, to see how it operates in different settings. To reiterate once more, I am not claiming that Islam is...

  9. Chapter 6 Conclusions: Sustainable Constitutionalism Through Practice
    (pp. 160-186)

    Constitutionalism can be viewed from a variety of perspectives, as a historical or sociological phenomenon, philosophical concept or desirable or practical political and legal system. It can be approached through the prism of certain core ideas such as the limitation of the powers of government, rule of law, or sovereignty. This concept can also be understood more broadly as an aspect of political culture that is related to a wider framework of political, social, and cultural processes, or normative and institutional development. I have attempted to draw on some of these perspectives and related ideas, without claiming to exhaustively apply...

  10. References
    (pp. 187-194)
  11. Index
    (pp. 195-199)