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Understanding the branches of Islam: Sunni Islam

15-02-2016

All Muslims share certain fundamental beliefs and practices. Nonetheless, over time, leadership disputes within the Muslim community have resulted in the formation of different branches, leading to the development of distinct religious identities within Islam. Sunni Islam is by far the largest branch of Islam: its followers make up 87 to 90% of the global Muslim population. The name 'Sunni Islam' derives from the term ahl al-sunna wa-l-jama'a ('people of the prophetic tradition and the community ...

All Muslims share certain fundamental beliefs and practices. Nonetheless, over time, leadership disputes within the Muslim community have resulted in the formation of different branches, leading to the development of distinct religious identities within Islam. Sunni Islam is by far the largest branch of Islam: its followers make up 87 to 90% of the global Muslim population. The name 'Sunni Islam' derives from the term ahl al-sunna wa-l-jama'a ('people of the prophetic tradition and the community'). Sunni Islam claims to represent the Muslim consensus concerning the teachings and habits of the Prophet. It originated among those Muslims who, contrary to Shiites and Khawarij, denied that Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, had been chosen as Muhammad's only legitimate successor. In contrast to Shiite Islam, where disagreement over the legitimate leader led to further splits into several sub-branches, Sunni Islam avoided fundamental divisions, allowing, instead, for 'pluralism within a unitary system'. This briefing offers a short overview over the distinctive features of Sunni Islam, its main institutions and holy places and the main trends in Sunni Islam today. This paper may be read together with other EPRS publications entitled Understanding the branches of Islam (September 2015) and Understanding the branches of Islam: Shia Islam (January 2016), as well as Understanding Sharia (May 2015) and Relations between Islam and the State (June 2015).

Adoption: Cross-Border Legal Issues and Gaps in the European Union

15-12-2015

This note summarises issues relating to the current legal framework for cross-border adoption matters – legal gaps and consequent obstacles to free movement of citizens – and avenues for solutions. It is draws on the background briefings prepared by independent experts and presented at the JURI-PETI workshop on ‘Adoption: Cross-border legal issues’ held at the European Parliament (EP) on 1 December 2015. The workshop had two main objectives: on the one hand, to respond to a number of petitions submitted ...

This note summarises issues relating to the current legal framework for cross-border adoption matters – legal gaps and consequent obstacles to free movement of citizens – and avenues for solutions. It is draws on the background briefings prepared by independent experts and presented at the JURI-PETI workshop on ‘Adoption: Cross-border legal issues’ held at the European Parliament (EP) on 1 December 2015. The workshop had two main objectives: on the one hand, to respond to a number of petitions submitted to the EP on issues relating to adoptions without parental consent involving non-national children and, on the other hand, to provide some background reflections for the legislative own-initiative opinion which the Legal Affairs Committee is preparing.

Adoption: Cross-Border Legal Issues

25-11-2015

This collection of briefings was prepared in view of a joint JURI-PETI Workshop organised by the Policy Department on 1 December 2015, to address legal issues related to cross-border adoptions in the EU. Presented in a first session dedicated to "Citizens' concerns and petitions on adoption cross-border legal issues in the EU", the two first papers deal with "Child protection: tensions created by the diversity of the domestic laws of EU Member States" and "The view of Ombudsmen for Children from ...

This collection of briefings was prepared in view of a joint JURI-PETI Workshop organised by the Policy Department on 1 December 2015, to address legal issues related to cross-border adoptions in the EU. Presented in a first session dedicated to "Citizens' concerns and petitions on adoption cross-border legal issues in the EU", the two first papers deal with "Child protection: tensions created by the diversity of the domestic laws of EU Member States" and "The view of Ombudsmen for Children from the perspective of the Polish, European and international law". The four other briefings provided background reflections to the second session, focussed on legal issues around "Cross-border recognition of adoptions". They first approached issues of recognition in a general way ("Conflicts and Coordination of Family statuses: Towards their recognition within the EU?"), turned to the "Recognition of intercountry adoptions - practical operation of the 1993 Hague Convention", further looked into limitations of the current EU legal framework and their consequences on free movement of citizens ("Cross-border recognition of domestic adoptions - obstacles to free movement") and finally examined issues around the recognition in the EU of adoptions made under non-EU legal systems ("Recognising child protection measures in the Middle Eastern legal systems as equivalents to adoption - a fresh look on Magrhebian kafala, Iranian sarparasti and Iraqi damm").

Autorzy zewnętrzni

Mathew THORPE, Paweł JAROS, Gian Paolo ROMANO, Laura MARTÍNEZ-MORA, Ruth CABEZA and Nadjma YASSARI

Relations between Islam and the state

30-06-2015

Since its inception in the 7th century AD, Islam has been the predominant religion in a great number of political entities from North Africa to south-east Asia. The desire to organise a society according to Islamic principles has spawned very different results in the course of history – not least because interpretations of Islam have varied across the regions of the world and through the ages.

Since its inception in the 7th century AD, Islam has been the predominant religion in a great number of political entities from North Africa to south-east Asia. The desire to organise a society according to Islamic principles has spawned very different results in the course of history – not least because interpretations of Islam have varied across the regions of the world and through the ages.

Understanding Sharia

18-05-2015

The Sharia – literally meaning 'path' – is the normative value system of Islam which guides the individual in their interaction with Allah (God) and society. Although the Sharia includes a number of clear precepts, it is not a set of deterministic rules and therefore requires interpretation. This is the subject of Islamic legal studies (fiqh). Recently, reference to the Sharia has become an important component of identity politics both within and outside the Muslim world. It is therefore necessary ...

The Sharia – literally meaning 'path' – is the normative value system of Islam which guides the individual in their interaction with Allah (God) and society. Although the Sharia includes a number of clear precepts, it is not a set of deterministic rules and therefore requires interpretation. This is the subject of Islamic legal studies (fiqh). Recently, reference to the Sharia has become an important component of identity politics both within and outside the Muslim world. It is therefore necessary to understand who interprets the Sharia and on what basis.

Yemen: on the brink of socio-economic collapse

13-04-2015

The volatile security situation in Yemen is closely linked to living conditions in the country. Yemen remains one of the poorest countries in the world – with high rates of unemployment, illiteracy and an absence of basic services. The transition process launched in the aftermath of the Arab Spring has failed to deliver the results expected, instead strengthening the perception of inequalities and government inefficiency. Fixing Yemen's economy and broken society is a key condition for any workable ...

The volatile security situation in Yemen is closely linked to living conditions in the country. Yemen remains one of the poorest countries in the world – with high rates of unemployment, illiteracy and an absence of basic services. The transition process launched in the aftermath of the Arab Spring has failed to deliver the results expected, instead strengthening the perception of inequalities and government inefficiency. Fixing Yemen's economy and broken society is a key condition for any workable political solution.

Yemen in Crises: What Role for the EU

05-01-2015

This briefing scrutinises the status of the transitional process taking place in Yemen. It analyses the political, economic, humanitarian and security conditions in Yemen. This briefing aims at helping Members of the European Parliament to have a better understanding of the country's situation and the latest developments. The case of Yemen suggests that overthrowing a despotic regime could be relatively easy but building new democracy to replace it is much harder. Adding to these difficulties is ...

This briefing scrutinises the status of the transitional process taking place in Yemen. It analyses the political, economic, humanitarian and security conditions in Yemen. This briefing aims at helping Members of the European Parliament to have a better understanding of the country's situation and the latest developments. The case of Yemen suggests that overthrowing a despotic regime could be relatively easy but building new democracy to replace it is much harder. Adding to these difficulties is the fact that Yemen remains one of the least developed countries in the region making the short-term socioeconomic impact of the transition pose further challenges. Moreover, the prevailed conflicts in various parts of the country and the absence of state institutions exacerbate the crisis. While the GCC initiative was successful in facilitating the appointment of a new president and forming a new transitional government, it fell short of providing solutions to the massive and intractable challenges threatening the unity and a sustainable peace in Yemen. This briefing provides a policy-oriented action plan to strengthen state building in Yemen, which is the core of many problems Yemen is suffering from. It is only through effective state building that an accountable and transparent state could be created. The EU, in the context of the GCC initiative, can play an important role to facilitate the process of state building in Yemen. This role varies from consultation, training, diffusing experience, to direct contribution to the process.

Autorzy zewnętrzni

Ahmed A. Saif (Sheba Centre for Strategic Studies, Sanaa, Yemen)

Insecurity in Context: The Rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria

24-07-2014

As the Boko Haram terrorist group wages war on a widening range of targets in Nigeria, the inefficiency of the country’s government has been starkly revealed – along with the urgent need for deep-cutting political and socio-economic reforms to counter a growing sense of insecurity. The north has been particularly hard-hit, with poor governance, omnipresent corruption and worsening social indicators compounding the security problem. Boko Haram, originally a peaceful Islamist movement, has moved progressively ...

As the Boko Haram terrorist group wages war on a widening range of targets in Nigeria, the inefficiency of the country’s government has been starkly revealed – along with the urgent need for deep-cutting political and socio-economic reforms to counter a growing sense of insecurity. The north has been particularly hard-hit, with poor governance, omnipresent corruption and worsening social indicators compounding the security problem. Boko Haram, originally a peaceful Islamist movement, has moved progressively towards militant extremism since 2009, regularly attacking Nigerians and foreigners, Christians and Muslims, northerners and even residents of the capital, troops and civilians, in an effort to destabilise the state. For a number of years the group was treated as an internal Nigerian problem. However, Boko Haram’s illicit and armed activities increasingly take place across the country’s borders. When more than 200 girls were kidnapped in the town of Chibok in April 2014, it was clear that neighbouring countries and the international community would need to coordinate their efforts. In addition to launching a direct response to the security threat, the Nigerian government must address a wide range of grievances to eliminate the root causes of the insurgency in the long term. This has proved a daunting task in the past, and the issue is currently politically delicate: the country is readying itself for the 2015 presidential elections, which are expected to be fiercely contested.

Egypt: In-Depth Analysis of the Main Elements of the New Constitution

09-04-2014

Despite cautious liberalisation in a few limited areas, Egypt’s new constitution of January 2014 does not represent a new democratic departure. The process of its adoption was not inclusive. Public consultations leading to the referendum were selective and weak. According to observation missions the referendum campaign was entirely skewed in favour of a ‘yes’ vote. Key elements of Egypt’s constitution are at odds with international legal obligations and standards. Human rights provisions are not ...

Despite cautious liberalisation in a few limited areas, Egypt’s new constitution of January 2014 does not represent a new democratic departure. The process of its adoption was not inclusive. Public consultations leading to the referendum were selective and weak. According to observation missions the referendum campaign was entirely skewed in favour of a ‘yes’ vote. Key elements of Egypt’s constitution are at odds with international legal obligations and standards. Human rights provisions are not specific in many aspects, leaving crucial aspects to be determined by laws. The military has a significant role; it is not only beyond democratic control, it has a say in civilian matters – an inverse relationship to democratic set-up. On a more positive note, the far-reaching Sharia provisions of the 2012 law have been abandoned and the article on equality of men and women has been strengthened. On balance the constitution offers little hope for eventual democratisation. Amending its provisions will be extremely difficult, requiring 2/3 majority in the House of Representatives and a referendum.

Autorzy zewnętrzni

Michael MEYER-RESENDE (Democracy Reporting International DRI, Germany)

Egypt's new constitution and religious minorities' rights: Prospects of improvement?

23-01-2014

The longstanding issue of discrimination against religious minorities has worsened in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, even more so since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. The new constitution, approved by referendum on 14-15 January 2014, has been welcomed by the majority of Copts as offering them better protection than the previous charter, adopted under Muslim Brotherhood rule.

The longstanding issue of discrimination against religious minorities has worsened in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, even more so since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. The new constitution, approved by referendum on 14-15 January 2014, has been welcomed by the majority of Copts as offering them better protection than the previous charter, adopted under Muslim Brotherhood rule.

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