Islam-based Legal Language and State Governance: Democracy, Strength of the Judiciary and Human Rights

States embracing Islam-based laws are frequently seen as struggling with establishing democratic institutions, and encouraging executive encroachment on the judiciary. Public in these countries often does not trust state institutions. lack of rule of law further exacerbates citizens’ distrust in public law. Is Islam-based legal language in a domestic legal system associated with lower levels of electoral democracy, fewer protections for private liberties, and a weak judiciary. Relying on original data covering laws in 29 Islamic law states (2001-2012), we focus on Islam-based legal language in these states’ constitutional and subconstitutional laws. By itself, Islam-based legal language is not associated with a weak judiciary or the absence of political liberties. However, subconstitutional—particularly legislative—commitments to Islam-based legal language are frequently associated with lower levels of democracy and fewer protections for private liberties and women’s rights.