The siyar - An Islamic law of nations?

Anke Iman Bouzenita*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This article deals with an essential part of Islamic law usually referred to as siyar. It discusses the development of siyar in an Islamic context and in comparison to the development of the modern law of nations. It further follows up the evaluation of siyar in the Western literature and analyses recurring paradigms of categorisation used in this literature. The author discusses Kruse's (1979) approach to differentiate between an "Islamic" and a "Muslim" law of nations. As case studies of argumentative weaknesses and loopholes, the author scrutinizes the attempts to attribute siyar to a particular type of law of nations and to render it as a legal order of either personal or territorial validity. The article focuses on methodological aspects involved in presenting two independent legal systems as commensurable. The author concludes that a terminological transfer, be it with the intention of explaining Islamic legal concepts to a non-specialized reader, be it with the intention to reconcile between both systems, cannot do justice to either one of the legal systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-46
Number of pages28
JournalAsian Journal of Social Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • International law
  • International relations
  • Islamic law
  • Siyar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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