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In November of 1999, Nigerians took to the streets demanding the re-implementation of Shari'ah law in their country. Two years later, many Nigerians supported the death sentence by stoning of a peasant woman for alleged sexual misconduct. Public outcry in the West was met with assurances to the Western public: stoning is not a part of Islam; stoning happens "only in Africa"; reports of stoning are exaggerated by Western sensationalism. However, none of these statements are true. Shari'ah on Trial goes beyond journalistic headlines and liberal pieties to give a powerful account of how Northern Nigerians reached a point of such desperation that they demanded the return of the strictest possible Shari'ah law. Sarah Eltantawi analyzes changing conceptions of Islamic theology and practice as well as Muslim and British interactions dating back to the colonial period to explain the resurgence of Shari'ah, with implications for Muslim-majority countries around the world.
Sarah Eltantawi is Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion at Evergreen State College and an analyst of the Muslim-majority world on major media outlets.