May 30, 2020. Professor Adnan Zulfiqar presented his paper at the Law and Society Association conference, entitled “Rules of Resistance: Jihad, Colonialism, and the Revolutionary Order.” He starts from the perspective that Islamic legal historians generally agree on colonialism’s disruptive effect on Muslim institutions and entities that organized Muslim life. While non-state actors played a prominent role in governing Muslim populations, the “state” had an instrumental role in regulating various aspects of communal life. In particular, statist activities like collection of taxes, adjudication, preserving public order and engaging in warfare were often the exclusive domain of political authorities. However, with the advent of colonial rule came the destruction of indigenous political authority and the de-emphasis of statist frameworks.
His project offers a different reading of the period by examining patterns in anti-colonial resistance, specifically jihād campaigns, and what they tell us about the refashioning and persistence of statist frameworks. He contends that, despite the disruption, an interesting pattern emerged of constructing hierarchies based on Islamic legal prerequisites for what constitutes “competent authority” to wage jihād. In particular, these movements often formed quasi-states to replicate disrupted governing frameworks; this replication was motivated not simply by desire for efficacy, but obligatory behavior under Islamic law.
The formation of these quasi-states followed different patterns with two broad strategies. The first involved initially migrating (hijra) to independent territory followed by the formation a new political entity before engaging in jihād against colonial rule. The second, rather than create new entities, utilized pre-existing hierarchies, namely Sufi brotherhoods, to mimic statist frameworks. Professor Zulfiqar’s paper illustrates these points by highlighting patterns of state formation among anti-colonial forces and the accompanying juristic discourses in support of them.