Law Review: Constitutional Visions of Contemporary Islamists

Kristen Stilt, How is Islam the Solution?: Constitutional Visions of Contemporary Islamists (May 20, 2010). Texas International Law Journal, Forthcoming; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 10-22. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1612482

This Article uses documents issued by the Muslim Brotherhood, in particular the lengthy 2007 ‘Political Party’ Platform, and personal interviews with Brotherhood leadership to examine the group’s specific goals and beliefs for the place of religion within the structure of the Egyptian legal system. While many important angles need to be explored, I focus on one topic that has drawn the most attention to the Brotherhood, the place of religion in the state, or religion defined and enforced by state institutions. I show that the Brotherhood carefully acknowledges the existing constitutional structure and jurisprudence on the position of Islam in the state, it also significantly expresses a desire to expand the place of Islam, constructed around and built upon the existing system. In order to examine these areas, the Article first provides essential background on the Muslim Brotherhood and then briefly explains Egypt’s existing constitutional structure with regard to Islam. The main part of the Article discusses in detail the Brotherhood’s agenda and its significance. In conclusion, the Article returns to the larger topic of Islamist political parties participating in national legislatures and will identify general challenges that any such party will face in explaining its agenda and, in particular, how it will combine religious sources along with a commitment to public welfare.