In the Shadow of Shari’ah

Islam, Islamic Law, and Democracy in Pakistan

Matthew J. Nelson

Bibliographic Details
In the Shadow of Shari’ah Hardback
March 2011£65.00

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Recent events in Pakistan, and more widely in the Islamic world, have sparked an unprecedented level of interest in the relationship between Islam and democracy. Studies of Islamic law (Shari’ah) lie at the heart of this trend, but carefully researched studies of Islamic law as it actually unfolds ‘on the ground’ remain extremely rare. This book promises to fill that gap, using a detailed study of Islamic laws in Pakistan to show exactly how the relationship between Islam, Islamic law and democracy is understood and, potentially, transformed in different cultural contexts. In the Shadow of Shari’ah reveals that Islam are neither compatible nor incompatible in any permanent or specific sense; they simply become more or less compatible owing to the historically embedded choices of individual Muslims regarding specific approaches to the law.


Matthew J. Nelson is Lecturer in the Politics of South Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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“This is a brilliant book, a major achievement of research, scholarship and understanding. It makes major contributions to our understanding of the history and politics of Pakistan, to understanding the limitations of elites, both national and international, in coming to grips with the workings of this large segment of Pakistani society, and to understanding the limitations, but also perhaps the new possibilities, of comparative political science.” – Professor Francis Robinson, CBE, Editor, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Islam