Law and organization of society are viewed by Muslims as being based on Islamic Shari’ah (literally, the ‘the Way’), the body of moral precepts, laws and rules divinely revealed in the Holy Qur’an and through the life and sayings (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad. It is from these that the scholars of jurisprudence (fiqh) down the centuries have sought to generate the legislation required to keep pace with the changing conditions of society.
Inevitably, much is not explicitly covered in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, so legal scholars have had to employ ijtihad, or human intellectual judgement and interpretation based on the universal guidlines set down in the scriptures, to generate the laws and rules necessary to regulate all aspects of Muslim life, including politics and constitutional matters.
In this study, developed from his PhD thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham, UK, in the late 1990s, the author shows that the principles of ijtihad are not so different from those of Western legal thinking, sharing as they do a basis in the concept of the common good. He goes on to compare Islamic political concepts such as shura, or consultation, with Western expressions of democracy. In arguing the ultimate sovereignity lies with the community, he shows that so far from being antithetical to Islam, democratic ideals in fact form the basis of the ideal Muslim political entity. He concludes that the Kuwaiti Constitution is an essentially Islamic blueprint.