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Saturday, 9 November 2013

Back to AL- Sanhuri after the Egytian spring

In my reference to AL-Sanhouri in this blog (by reproducing an article published by the Ahram Hebdo in French), I Wanted to highlight the thinking of Dr. 'Abd al-Razziq al-Sanhuri (1895-1971) who was one of the most prominent jurists to emerge in Modern Egypt.

The purpose of this reference is to make a research on the following question: Why revisiting Sanhouri’s work is very attractive after the Arab spring of 2011?

I would try to reply to this question by another article in French.

But is was urgent to note that most of the reference to AL Sanhuri’s work were in Arabic and in English, whether to defend his views about the possibility of reforming Islamic law and its compatibility with modern law or to disagree by claiming the immutability of such religious law.

For example, in his book The Islamic Shari’a and Positive Law, (“The Islamic Shari’a and Positive Law”* “Tariq al-Bishri, “al-Wad‘ al-qanuni al-mu‘asir bayn al-shari‘a al-islamiyya wa-l-qanun al-wad‘i, Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1996.)  the eminent Egyptian jurist Tariq al-Bishri complains that in Egypt there now exists an unfortunate disjunction between legal rules and moral rules.

He complains in fact that in Egypt there now exists an unfortunate disjunction between legal  rules and moral rules, in the sense that while the legitimacy of the former has come to Egypt  recently from abroad in the shape of positive law, the latter has remained continuously bound up in people’s everyday lives with Islam.

I was also surprised by the critical analysis made by Al-Bishri to the work of Al- Sanhuri  as laking “authenticity” and (Asalah in Arabic).

As an Islamist, al-Bishri is committed to the renewal of the shari‘a, but it is interesting that his argument about the historical displacement of Islamic law rests partly on positivist assumptions. He believes that the particular form of the split that obtains in Egypt today between codified law and everyday morality is dangerous to the state because ultimately its political legitimacy requires some measure of coherence between the two.

Al-Bishri wanted in fact before and after the events of 2011 (he was in the constitutional committee) to conciliate the election of the Muslim brothers with the renovation of Islam (which he was looking for since the defeat of 1967). For example he Said in Arabic:

نحن رجال القانون نقول دائما إن المشرع يقول كل ما يعنيه ويعنى كل ما يقوله وإن إعمال النص القانونى خير من إهماله، كما نعرف أن من دلالات النص ما يعبر عنه علماء أصول الفقه بأنه «دلالة المقتضى» أى أنه إذا كان ثمة معنى لم يرد بحرفه فى النص فهو يستفاد على سبيل اليقين والجزم لأن الصادرات الواردة بالنص تكون مما يفيد بالحكم اقتضاءه. ومن هنا فهمنا أن تحريم الدم والميتة ولحم الخنزير الوارد بالقرآن الكريم إنما يفيد تحريم أكلها رغم أن لفظ الأكل أو الطعام لم يردد بالنص، وذلك لأنها من المطعومات، وأن تحريم الأمهات والخالات والعمات والبنات وارد بالقرآن الكريم إنما يفيد تحريم الزواج بهن رغم أن لفظ الزواج لم يرد بالنص، وبذات المنطق الذى يثبت دلالة المقتضى هذه نقول إن نصوص الاستفتاء والإعلان الدستورى يفيد وجود انتخاب رئيس الجمهورية فى المرحلة الانتقالية ذاتها وأنها تصاحب إعداد الدستور الجديد ولا تكون بعد

The irony of the history is that some people are trying to compare what happened to Al-Bishri after the military decision to dismiss the President Mursi to what happened to Sanhuri after 1952.

However, the main subject is that event obliges most of jurists in Egypt to see the limit of innovation after the practice of the Muslim Brothers in the exercice of their power. That is why they returned to the ideas of Sanhuri who was more dualist in his way of using the comparative law.

Many jurists tried to revisit  the context of Egypt at that time where, about a century ago, attempts were being made to reform the sharī‘a, the religious law and ethics of Islam, and in particular AL-Sanhuri and Ali- Abdelraziq (even if both of them were not from the same school of thoughts.

To follow this point of view, reference should be made to the work of Dr. Talal ASAD.

More important is the following two works:

Shalakany, “Sanhuri and the historical origins of comparative law in the Arab world.” in Annelise Riles, ed., Rethinking the Masters of Comparative Law, 2001.

Bechor, Guy (2007). The Sanhuri Code, and the Emergence of the Modern Arab Civil Law (1932 to 1949). Leiden: Brill.