Document Type

Book Chapter

Book Authors/Editors

Federico Lorenzo Ramaioli


Palgrave MacMillan (New York/London)

Publication Date



In an increasingly globalized world, a world in flux, which is constantly subject to rapid circulation of information, change is a dimension that we all experience in our lives with ever increasing frequency. Change, be it that of customs and fashion or that of laws and systems of government, is something which now seems impossible to escape. Change is an integral part of our unstable contemporaneity.

This is not only a continuous change but also a rapid one. In such a social and political environment, at a global and local level, it is more and more difficult to find a singular direction of development, because there are often multiple, distinct trends pulling at that development that obfuscate which direction the development will go. Coinciding with this, in facing shifting scenarios, the most difficult step is to understand why it is necessary to adapt the tools at our disposal for a new reading of reality; this is not only the most complex task but also the most difficult one. It is the labor that ultimately calls into question the way we have given a certain meaning to the world that surrounds us. It also questions our way of being and the categories and frameworks we are using to interpret the reality surrounding us. It consequently influences or impacts our lives and the lenses through which we envisage our relationship with other people and the rest of the world. Yet, in order to deepen our comprehension of the world, it is essential to grasp and decipher its interconnections among different regions and complex systems, therefore give it the form of a permanent dialogue. This applies to all fields of knowledge, including law. It has been pointed out on more than one occasion how the concepts of “Islam” and “the West” represent two civilizations with uncertain boundaries. Defining what is to be understood by these two terms is extremely difficult, since it presupposes a process involving many theoretical or technical steps that are not always univocal or shared by all experts and commentators.

Nevertheless, these are two terms that are always present in great historical narratives, both in the case of peaceful exchange and dialogue and in the case of confrontation and conflict. Regarding the history of law, including the history of modern and contemporary law, it is not possible to ignore the paths leading to the encounter of Muslim law and Western law, although even in this case it is particularly difficult to define the boundaries of the two terms precisely. However, what has emerged today is the issue of their meeting on common ground and in a stable theoretical framework, as in the case of a constitution. It is an event posing difficult questions that are no longer possible to avoid precisely because of the frequency of exchange between these two worlds, of which we witness more and more often in an age of mass migrations.

Today more than ever, it is crucial to put Islamic law into dialogue with the Western legal tradition. An examination of the interactions and interdependencies between different legal perspectives appears inevitable, especially in the context of modern constitutionalism. Islamic law shapes and influences the lives of the faithful. It defines a field of action which, in some respects, aligns with that of state jurisdiction, while in others it disengages, eludes, and escapes the boundaries and scope of it.