Professor Ali Mazrui, Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University, New York introduced the book and its author and pointed to the significance of the topic of Islamic law in Nigeria and within the current global context. He appraised the scholarly credentials of Professor Laremont and his in-depth and thorough analysis of the subject of Sharia or Islamic law in Nigeria.
In his lecture, Professor Laremont described the circumstances within which the demand for the implementation of sharia law in Nigeria emerged in the late 1990’s after the end of Nigeria’s long, stifling and undemocratic military rule. He explained why Muslims in Northern Nigeria believed that Sharia or Islamic law was essential to their definition of law and for the establishment of legitimacy for their government. In his inquiry, Professor Laremont found the origins of the call to establish Sharia in 19th century politics and jurisprudence that had consequences that would reverberate across millennia. The book itself examines important issues of governance, gender relations, Muslim-Christian rapprochement, and the role of Sharia in the world.
Although the book focuses on Sharia or Islamic law in Nigeria, it is not solely about Nigeria. Professor Laremont proposes that the social power of shariamovements from a global perspective originates in the belief held by Muslims (from London to Jakarta) that an Islamic law system helps legitimize the state. Professor Laremont points out to the normative differences between the Islamic notions of justice that emphasize the delivery of equitable results and the more predictable outcomes expected within the Anglo American and Continental European jurisprudence. This fundamental difference – Professor Laremont concludes – needs to be understood if we were to comprehend the power of Islamic law or Sharia movements.
Beside Islam in West Africa, Professor Laremont’s interests include; political Islam, ethnic and religious conflict, democratization and civil/military rule, particularly in North Africa and the Sahel. His previous publications include: Islam and the Politics of Resistance in Nigeria, 1783-1992; The Causes of war and the Consequences of Peacekeeping in Africa; and, Boarders, nationalism and the African State.