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This article explores the principle of separation of powers and its proper constitutional role in regulating relations among the various organs of state in an Islamic polity. It will be noted at the outset that the Muslim polity has undergone shifting paradigms – from the Righteous Caliphate of the early decades of the advent of Islam, to the ensuing hereditary/dynastic caliphate, to western nation state, and now to a fresh demand for an Islamic state (dawla Islāmiyya) as I explain in the following paragraphs. With the spread, under European influence, of the western nation state in much of the post-colonial Muslim world, both the Shari’ah and ulama lost their preeminence. Massive dislocations in their legal and political orders brought the Muslims face to face with a host of uncertainties as to what role, if any, their own legacy could play under the new constitutional arrangement of western origin.
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