Heaven on Earth by Sadakat Kadri

64%

5 Critic Reviews

This is an extremely valuable book. Its first half deals with the history of Islam...It's a minefield, shariah law, then, and when you're in a minefield, you need a guide. This is as good as we have right now, and don't let the laudatory quote from Boris Johnson on the front cover put you off.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Some fourteen hundred years after the Prophet Muhammad first articulated God's law-the shari'a-its earthly interpreters are still arguing about what it means. Hard-liners reduce it to am­putations, veiling, holy war, and stonings. Others say that it is humanity's only guarantee of a just society. And as colossal acts of terrorism made the word "shari'a" more controversial than ever during the past decade, the legal historian and human rights lawyer Sadakat Kadri realized that many people in the West harbored ideas about Islamic law that were hazy or simply wrong. Heaven on Earth describes his journey, through ancient texts and across modern borders, in search of the facts behind the myths.

Kadri brings lucid analysis and enlivening wit to the turbulent story of Islam's foundation and expansion, showing how the Prophet Muhammad's teachings evolved gradually into con­cepts of justice. Traveling the Muslim world to see the shari'a's principles in action, he encounters a cacophony of legal claims. At the ancient Indian grave of his Sufi ancestor, unruly jinns are exor­cised in the name of the shari'a. In Pakistan's madrasas, stern scholars ridicule his talk of human rights and demand explanations for NATO drone attacks in Afghanistan. In Iran, he hears that God is forgiving enough to subsidize sex-change operations-but requires the execution of Muslims who change religion. Yet the stories of compulsion and violence are only part of a picture that also emphasizes compassion and equity. Many of Islam's first judges refused even to rule on cases for fear that a mistake would damn them, and scholars from Delhi to Cairo maintain that gov­ernments have no business enforcing faith.

The shari'a continues to shape explosive po­litical events and the daily lives of more than a billion Muslims. Heaven on Earth is a brilliantly iconoclastic tour through one of humanity's great collective intellectual achievements-and an essential guide to one of the most disputed but least understood controversies of modern times.

 

About Sadakat Kadri

See more books from this Author
Sadakat Kardi is a practicing English barrister and qualified New York attorney, and the author of The Trial. He has a master's de­gree from Harvard Law School and has contributed to The Guardian, The Times (London), and the London Review of Books, and he is the winner of the 1998 Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing. He lives in London.
 
Published April 10, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 384 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Law & Philosophy, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Heaven on Earth
All: 5 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Mohamad Bazzi on Aug 10 2012

His recounting of his own present-day journey through countries including Pakistan, Iran and Egypt lacks the verve and wit that he brings to the history.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Apr 16 2012

In “Heaven on Earth” Mr. Kadri constructs an urgent appeal for mutual understanding. His book fills in pieces of what he calls “a great moral jigsaw puzzle.”

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Jan 16 2013

This is an extremely valuable book. Its first half deals with the history of Islam...It's a minefield, shariah law, then, and when you're in a minefield, you need a guide. This is as good as we have right now, and don't let the laudatory quote from Boris Johnson on the front cover put you off.

Read Full Review of Heaven on Earth | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Aatish Taseer on Jan 20 2012

Kadri is not a good traveller; his visits to Deoband in India, madrasas in Karachi, Qom in Iran and Cairo can feel bitty and scripted. He does not have the ability to probe the people he travels among...

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Gideon Lewis-Kraus on Apr 10 2012

...moves from a spirited, fast-paced account of the historical development of Islam's legal institutions and hermeneutic strategies to a series of reflective contemporary encounters with the individuals and schools that make these decisions today...

Read Full Review of Heaven on Earth | See more reviews from NPR

Reader Rating for Heaven on Earth
85%

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