Special Issue "Islamic Constitutions: Managing Religion and Politics"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 September 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Rachel M. Scott
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Interests: Islamic law and personal status law; religion, law, and constitutions; modern Islamic political thought: citizenship, religious minorities, religious authority, and religion and state; Islamism (particularly the Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt; religion and secularism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During the upheaval of the prematurely entitled “Arab Spring”, the abolition of old constitutions and the creation of new ones featured prominently. Discussions of constitutions in the Middle East and broader Islamic world have tended to focus on the extent to which constitutions advance democracy, the balance of powers, and human rights (Bernard-Maugiron, 2013; Nathan J. Brown, 2002; Mustafa Kamel Al-Sayyid, 2013). Other work on Islam and constitutions has investigated the concept of Islamic constitutionalism in Islamic political theory, in terms of Islamic understandings of human rights, equality, and the separation of powers (Rutherford, 2008; Longo, 2019; March, 2019). Yet other scholarship has addressed the role constitutions have played in revolutions and in legitimizing new regimes (Sultany, 2017).

While questions of democracy, human rights, and political legitimacy are important, this Special Issue of Religions calls for a closer examination of the ways in which constitutions manage the relationship between religion and politics (Agrama, 2012), with a particular focus on how religion is altered in the process of its management. Constitution debating, constitution writing, and laws and public attitudes informed by constitutional articles show how the state manages the relationship between religion and politics and how “legal institutions play important roles in constituting struggle over religion” (Moustafa, 2018, 2). Constitutions represent moments when the state manages and defines who is the minority (Mahmood, 2012), who is the majority (Iqtidar, 2012), and what the relationship between the two is. Constitutions function to craft national culture and fashion citizenship in the service of the state. Hanna Lerner contends that such a “foundational aspect of the constitution has been generally neglected by studies in comparative politics” (Lerner, 2011, 4).

Of particular interest to this Special Issue are papers that seek to grapple with the questions outlined above in Muslim-majority countries across the globe, while highlighting the specific legal, social, and political consequences of how religion is altered by the state’s management of it through constitutional articles. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • how Islam is managed, defined, and interpreted when Muslim-majority states make constitutional statements about it;
  • how constitutional articles concerning the sharia have set the terms by which it is interpreted;
  • how constitutions determine who gets to speak for the sharia;
  • how constitutional statements about Islam and the sharia work in conjunction with statements about, for example, minorities, women, free speech, and economics; and
  • how constitutional commitments to Islam and the sharia fashion citizenship and craft national culture.

Dr. Rachel M. Scott
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • constitutions
  • religion and law
  • religion and politics
  • Islam
  • sharia

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
The Constitutionalization of the Civil State: The Self-Definition of Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen Following the Arab Uprisings
Religions 2021, 12(4), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040269 - 13 Apr 2021
Viewed by 175
This paper offers a contextualized analysis of the way in which three Islamic constitutions—in Egypt (2014/2019), Tunisia (2014), and Yemen (2015)—came to a similar self-declaration of a “civil state” (dawla madaniyya), following the Arab uprisings. This self-expressive proclamation, which did not exist in [...] Read more.
This paper offers a contextualized analysis of the way in which three Islamic constitutions—in Egypt (2014/2019), Tunisia (2014), and Yemen (2015)—came to a similar self-declaration of a “civil state” (dawla madaniyya), following the Arab uprisings. This self-expressive proclamation, which did not exist in their former constitutions, nor in any other constitution worldwide, is the product of the ongoing internal struggles of Muslim societies over the definition of their collectivity between conservatism and modernity, religiosity and secularism. In Egypt, the self-definition of a civil state enshrines the one-sided narrative of the June 2013 coup regime and the Armed Forces’ intrusive move into the field of state–religion relations; in Tunisia, the constitutionalization of the civil state reflects a settlement between Islamists and non-Islamists regarding the role of Islam in politics and legislation; in Yemen, it expresses an aspiration of detribalization and modernization within an Islamic model of statehood. The paper further seeks to trace the path of migration of this idea from one country to another, and the interconnectedness between the three cases, while pointing out possible implications on future constitution making in other Muslim countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islamic Constitutions: Managing Religion and Politics)
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