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Constituting Religion
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  • Cited by 5
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    2018. Books Received. American Journal of International Law, Vol. 112, Issue. 4, p. 804.


    Moustafa, Tamir 2018. The Judicialization of Religion. Law & Society Review, Vol. 52, Issue. 3, p. 685.

    Moustafa, Tamir and Sachs, Jeffrey Adam 2018. Law and Society Review Special Issue Introduction: Islamic Law, Society, and the State. Law & Society Review, Vol. 52, Issue. 3, p. 560.

    Oraby, Mona 2018. Law, the State, and Public Order: Regulating Religion in Contemporary Egypt. Law & Society Review, Vol. 52, Issue. 3, p. 574.


Book description

Most Muslim-majority countries have legal systems that enshrine both Islam and liberal rights. While not necessarily at odds, these dual commitments nonetheless provide legal and symbolic resources for activists to advance contending visions for their states and societies. Using the case study of Malaysia, Constituting Religion examines how these legal arrangements enable litigation and feed the construction of a 'rights-versus-rites binary' in law, politics, and the popular imagination. By drawing on extensive primary source material and tracing controversial cases from the court of law to the court of public opinion, this study theorizes the 'judicialization of religion' and the radiating effects of courts on popular legal and religious consciousness. The book documents how legal institutions catalyze ideological struggles, which stand to redefine the nation and its politics. Probing the links between legal pluralism, social movements, secularism, and political Islamism, Constituting Religion sheds new light on the confluence of law, religion, politics, and society. This title is also available as Open Access.


'Moustafa’s fascinating book demonstrates that courts in Malaysia, as in many Muslim-majority polities, enable and catalyze as much as resolve ideological conflicts between proponents of Islamic religious principles and liberal rights. The author’s sophisticated understanding of law’s constitutive power makes the volume an important contribution to scholarship on legal mobilization, rights contestation, and popular legal consciousness. It is a brilliant achievement, and highly recommended!'

Michael McCann - Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship, University of Washington

'Constituting Religion offers a strikingly innovative approach to understanding the relationship between Islam and the liberal legal order. Rather than seeing them as inherently incompatible, the book shows through a case study of Malaysia that laws and legal cases generate contests that intensify ideological differences and construct a law/religion binary that polarizes popular legal consciousness. Tamir Moustafa creatively uses socio-legal theory to provide a refreshingly new perspective on a much debated issue.'

Sally Engle Merry - New York University

'Tamir Moustafa has done his homework! Constituting Religion is teeming with insights for anyone interested in law, religion, and politics in Malaysia and beyond. He provides readers with a clear-eyed view of how 'rights versus religion' polemics are constructed, and why they matter. Moustafa does justice to an important and complex issue.'

Zainah Anwar - co-Founder of Sisters in Islam and Musawah, The Global Movement for Justice and Equality in the Muslim Family

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