Dominik Krell: Islamic Governance in Saudi Arabia: Contemporary Perspectives on siyāsa sharʿiyya

Afternoon Talk on Islamic Law

  • Date: Aug 19, 2021
  • Time: 04:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Location: online

About the speaker

Dominik Krell is a research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg. Previously, he was a visiting fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh. His research is informed by his academic background in Law, Middle Eastern Studies and Anthropology and focuses on how Islamic Law is understood and applied in the contemporary Middle East.

About the topic

Until today, the Saudi kingdom is built on an alliance between the Saʿūd family and influential Islamic scholars (ʿulamāʾ). The scope of the king’s rule is defined by siyāsa sharʿiyya, a state doctrine that originates in the works of the controversial medieval Ḥanbalī scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328). Broadly speaking, the doctrine obliges everyone in the state, the ruler and the ruled alike, to follow and apply Islamic law in all their actions. In the talk, I explore how contemporary Saudi ʿulamāʾ understand siyāsa sharʿiyya and how this understanding is reflected in the political and legal organisation of the Saudi state. I show how siyāsa sharʿiyya defines the king’s legislative powers and how it limits the possibilities for state-driven reform. Current developments in the kingdom, I argue, can only be fully grasped by considering the doctrine’s complicated role in political and legal processes.

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