Instructor(s) Quraishi-Landes, Asifa
This class is designed to give students a basic understanding of the internal workings of Islamic law at its theoretical roots. This will be done by analyzing the various methodologies that are represented in Islamic legal literature, helping to enable the students to identify modern manifestations of these methodologies in contemporary Muslim discourses. Specifically, we will undertake a study of ijtihad, the mechanism of Islamic legal reasoning, focusing on the role of human fallibility in interpreting divine text, issues of certainty and probability in Islamic lawmaking, and the resulting landscape of multiple schools of law madhhabs. We will review the dominant tools of legal interpretation in Islam, such as those rules surrounding the reading of source texts (Quran and Hadith), as well as qiyas (analogical reasoning) and ijmaa (consensus). This study will be done with an eye to the various rationales behind the jurists methodologies and the corresponding impact on Islamic law as a whole. Students will be asked to compare similarities and differences, and offer their own critiques of various approaches. The class will conclude with some attention to specific doctrinal areas, such as Islamic family law, criminal law, and finance. Attentive students should come away from the class with a working understanding of the various methodologies in classical Islamic jurisprudence, as well as an appreciation of the types of Islamic legal arguments that are employed in global Muslim debates today.
Readings will be from a collection provided on an online moodle site, as well as selected readings from WAEL HALLAQ, AN INTRODUCTION TO ISLAMIC LAW (Cambridge 2009).