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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

6 - The Witness of the Law in Comparative Perspective


This final chapter outlines the contours of a Christian political theology of law as an indirect and provisional witness to the divine rule, before considering how this approach might engage with Sunni political theology. The chapter develops a theological account of public law as a site of contestation where provisional and indirect witness to God’s rule is at stake. The law is a witness because it is never able to be or to usher in the rule of God; it is indirect because public law should be minimally concerned with the truth about God’s identity and nature; it is provisional since the law is always in need of critique and reevaluation and can never be finally settled. Following the comparative hermeneutic that has guided this book, the chapter then shows how such a theo-legal vision might engage with certain aspects of classical, modern, and contemporary Sunni Islamic thought and prove a productive framework for further debate and dialogue on three key issues in modern Islamic thought: (1) the nature of divine sovereignty and public law, (2) the distinctions between sharī’a and fiqh, and (3) the relationship between maqaṣid (the higher aims of the law), maṣlaḥa, and fiqh.