Ambiguities and Conflicts: Sharia and Modernity in the Criminal Law. A Study of the Federal Supreme Court Jurisprudence of the United Arab Emirates
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Alhammadi, Mohammed Shaker
UAE embarked on a process of implementing two different legal systems - its traditional Islamic legal system of Sharia and a modernized secular legal system based most significant on four legal principles: the legality principle of "no crime no punishment without law"; the equality principle of "all people equal before the law"; appellate review principle; and the modern philosophy of punishment. The traditional Sharia legal system and the modernized secular system areoften in conflict and have proved difficult to synthesize. Various ambiguities and conflicts result from the sometimes divergent actions of these two different legal systems. Moreover, divergent opinions withinn Sharia law - that is, the different interpretations of different Islamic legal schools concerning particular legal principles - complicate matters further. The Federal Supreme Court (FSC), comprised in part of the Sharia Circuit, has sometimes seized upon these ambiguities and conflicts to strengthen its position in the synthesized legal system so as to achieve several goals: to further Islamization in the courts and society at large; to satisfy the political wishes of the government; and to respond to the demands of outside organizations. The court has provided various interpretations, considerations, and rulings. Nonetheless, the court's attempts to reconcile Islamization and modernization have fallen short. If the synthesis of these two legal systems is ultimately to succeed, then the FSC must adopt the modernized secular principles as its guiding principles while drawing wisdom and support from Sharia, rather than isolating each system from the other.
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