Last 11th and 12th June, FUNCI participated in the XVIII Congress of the Muslim and Arab World Research Forum (FIMAM) with the purpose of presenting its new project “Islam and Constitutionalism: an open dialogue”. The FIMAM is a scientific cooperation initiative that gathers the main Spanish scholars and researchers on the Muslim and Arab world. Its annual meeting aims at keeping its members updated on the researches that are being carried out throughout the country, as well as in other countries of Southern Europe, such as Italy or Portugal. To this end, new researches and progresses are presented throughout the Congress. In this regard, several panels were organized, which analyzed Spain’s colonial period, the European policies towards the Mediterranean, the different divisions of Islam, the Palestinian conflict, or the popular mobilizations after the Arab Spring, among others.
In this context, FUNCI had the opportunity of presenting one of the last research projects in which it has been working this last year. Under the title “Towards a New (Theoretical) Model of Islamic Constitutionalism”, FUNCI presented its first thoughts on a current hot topic: the inherent ability of Islam to contribute to the development of democratic political regimes. The project has its origin in the popular mobilizations lived five years ago in both sides of the Mediterranean, which lead to the fall of long-lasting authoritarian regimes in the Arab world and to the demands of a renovation of the democratic institutions in the North bank of the Mediterranean. This moment gave us the opportunity of asking ourselves about the Islam’s principles and instruments that could contribute to the achievement of this democratic regeneration and how this principles could be implemented in the current democratic constitutional regimes.
It is a project developed by the Islamic Culture Foundation in collaboration with a great number of researchers, jurists and Islamic scholars, which has allowed it to rely on the opinion of different specialists to develop this issue. This project tries to overcome the dichotomous stances according to which it is necessary to choose between the support of human rights in secular systems and the defense of religion at the expense of the citizens’ rights, in order to analyze Islam’s ability to generate a third way, that combines the respect of human rights and the democratic principles with those of Islam.
The presentation, which was a great success, exposed the main ideas of the project, dividing it in the different fields that need to be developed: legal stability, political participation, separation of powers and check and balances mechanisms, and the protection of human rights. Thus, there were presented several fields that may look controversial at first, but for whose development we find different principles and mechanisms innate to Islam.
This Forum has allowed the FUNCI to present its first reflections on the issue of Islam and constitutionalism, as well as to spread the project among many specialists on the field. It is only, however, the first step of many –with the collaboration of other specialized Arabists and jurists– to analyze the contribution Islam can make to the development of democratic regimes and of political systems more flexible and efficient.