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History Nonfiction Social Sciences

Europe, the New Abyssinia: On the Role of the First Hijra in the Fiqh al-Aqalliyyāt al-Muslima Discourse

By Uriya Shavit, 2018

Since the mid-1980s, Muslim jurists and theologians have discussed the permissibility of mass-scale Muslim permanent voluntary settlement in majority non-Muslim countries and the unique challenges Muslim minorities face in secularizing Christian societies. Their efforts constitute a new field in Islamic jurisprudence, fiqh al-aqalliyyāt al-Muslima (the religious law of Muslim minorities). A number of participants in this field have introduced analogies between present realities and the first hijra – the migration to Christian Abyssinia (Ethiopia) with the blessing of the Prophet Muhammad. The objectives of this article are twofold: (a) to point to the roles of these analogies in fiqh al-aqalliyyāt al- Muslima discourse and (b) to demonstrate how Islamic jurists and theologians interpret similar or almost similar mythical narratives to support conflicting arguments. The article draws on a qualitative reading of several dozen religious decisions, treatises and sermons by jurists and theologians collected from mosques, Islamic centres and libraries in Europe, as well as from online resources.

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