Sezgin awarded NEH fellowship to study democratization of Islamic laws

January 4, 2019 | Rob Enslin

Sezgin,-Yuksel

A Syracuse University professor has received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellowship, supporting research into the complex interplay between democracy and Muslim Family Laws (MFLs) in non-Muslim-majority countries.

Yüksel Sezgin, associate professor of political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences, will use the $60,000 fellowship to work on a book-length comparative study of the democratization of Islamic laws in Greece, Ghana, India and Israel.

Under contract with Cambridge University Press, the book will be the first of its kind, empirically answering the question: “Can MFLs and democracy co-exist within a non-Muslim-majority country?”

For more than a thousand years, MFLs have regulated familial relations among Muslims, influencing marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance.
There are currently 53 countries—35 Muslim and 18 non-Muslim-majority ones—that formally integrate MFLs into their national legal systems.

Sezgin is focusing on Greece, Ghana, India and Israel because they are the world’s only non-Muslim-majority countries that are considered functioning democracies and formally integrate MFLs into their legal systems. These four “test cases,” he says, may hold clues to how Islamic law could flourish within other democratic frameworks.

Read more in the SU News article "Professor Awarded NEH Fellowship to Study Democratization of Islamic Laws."