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Unexplored dimensions: Islamic land systems in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, and Somalia

A common dilemma confronting post-conflict interventions in Muslim societies is whether, or to what extent, to engage with Islamic normative systems and perforce Islamic political dynamics. Will entertaining Islamic arguments add another layer of volatility, frustrate reform, and embolden radicals? Will Muslims intuitively resist universal principles and demand authenticity even at the expense of durable peacebuilding and development? Will canvassing medieval Islamic doctrines, like other customary norms, unravel the hard-won development consensus and jeopardize human rights? Widespread anxieties such as these may reflect the false premises and dichotomies—universal versus Islamic, secular versus faith-oriented, modern versus traditional—that sometimes permeate post-conflict resource management discourses.

Islamic arguments are a distinctive stream of thought that cannot always be subsumed within an all-encompassing “customary, informal, and alternative” category. At the same time, the role of Islamic ideas should not be exaggerated, given the dynamic relationship between Islamic, secular, customary, and state norms where there is legal pluralism. This chapter does not advocate for exclusive or automatic Islamic solutions where Muslims live; rather, it suggests that where Islamic components can be fitted into overall universal strategies, they must be deployed when appropriate, and this deployment must be accompanied by a realistic political assessment of the risks and opportunities. Muslims in postconflict situations have natural resource concerns, needs, and challenges that are similar to those of any other post-conflict community, so they are likely to
welcome global approaches that are adapted to their setting. Exploration of Islamic best practices is not necessarily aligned with a fundamentalist, ideological, or even pro-faith agenda because Islamic development.

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