Categories: Legal Theory and Jurisprudence
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). Students will be asked to compare similarities and differences, and offer their own critiques of various approaches. There is additional attention to the specific doctrinal areas of Islamic family law and criminal law. The class also contextualizes the subject of Islamic law within various governmental and constitutional structures, beginning with the classical period, continuing through colonialism and reaching into the present day. 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.
Reading Materials: Readings will be from a professor-created collection provided on an online moodle site. Final grade will be based on a final term paper or final project/presentation, with added points for class participation throughout the semester.