940 L&CP: Intro to Islamic Law - §011, Spring 2009

Categories: International and Comparative Law Legal Theory and Jurisprudence

Instructor(s) Quraishi, 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.

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