Whither Minority Jurisprudence?

The Case of Fiqh Al-Aqalliyat in Australia

  • Shaheen Whyte
Keywords: Australia, minority, fiqh al-aqalliyat, Sharia, Islamic law


This study explores the notion of fiqh al-aqalliyat (minority jurisprudence) in Western societies with a focus on Australian Muslims. It argues that, despite enabling Western Muslims to formulate a contextspecific jurisprudence to their newly adopted homelands, fiqh alaqalliyat remains fiercely debated in Islamic studies. Critics of minority fiqh reveal several contention points relating to its lack of applicability in certain social and political contexts; exploitation of legal maxims relating to easing hardship for Muslims; and its overly integrationist mentality. Proponents of minority fiqh, on the other hand, argue these very facets are circumstantial and designed to help Muslims appropriate Islamic teachings to new and unfamiliar settings. This study therefore looks at the socio-political and situational circumstances of the minority population in question, whether it is a well-established migrant community in the West or one that holds a less favourable minority status elsewhere. It assesses these contexts in light of the scholarly and juristic arguments at hand, before moving into how minority fiqh issues are deliberated and contested in Australia.