The Logic of Law Making in Islam

The Logic of Law Making in Islam : Women and Prayer in the Legal Tradition

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This pioneering study examines the process of reasoning in Islamic law. Some of the key questions addressed here include whether sacred law operates differently from secular law, why laws change or stay the same and how different cultural and historical settings impact the development of legal rulings. In order to explore these questions, the author examines the decisions of thirty jurists from the largest legal tradition in Islam: the Hanafi school of law. He traces their rulings on the question of women and communal prayer across a very broad period of time - from the eighth to the eighteenth century - to demonstrate how jurists interpreted the law and reconciled their decisions with the scripture and the sayings of the Prophet. The result is a fascinating overview of how Islamic law has evolved and the thinking behind individual rulings.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 11 b/w illus.
  • 1139786253
  • 9781139786256

Table of contents

1. A general model; 2. Preliminaries; 3. Women praying with men: adjacency; 4. Women praying with women; 5. Women praying with men: communal prayers; 6. The historical development of Hanafi reasoning; 7. From laws and values; 8. The logic of law making.
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Review quote

'Sadeghi's work is significant. His detailed analysis of a focused set of legal debates is illuminating in its own right, and his sophisticated discussion of the nature of legal change and justification should make the work a touchstone for any future thinking about this issue. Sadeghi's overall conclusion - that the business of the typical pre-modern Muslim jurist was focused not on the canon but on the precedent embodied in his school's doctrine - is certainly true and important, but his elucidation of the logic of change internal to Islamic legal discourse is even more interesting and original.' Ahmed El Shamsy, Marginalia '... I believe this book to be a contribution of the highest order. It introduces an entirely novel yet exceptionally rational approach, provides models for testing, sheds light on some of the more challenging questions in Islamic legal studies, and - though I often disagree with subsequent interpretations - conveys premodern narratives and legal material with accuracy. The case studies are valuable in and of themselves with regard to current research and debates on several topics concerning the status and rights of women in premodern Islamic law; the author's 'hypothetical' ijtihad ... with regard to women's attendance at group prayers is itself compelling. Most importantly, however, Sadeghi contributes an articulate legal developmental paradigm that - though extreme in its descriptive-centrism - is a formidable addition to the array of current models in the field, and of particular import in understanding the so-called Hanafi tariqa of us-l al-fiqh. Walter E. Young, Journal of the American Oriental Society
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About Behnam Sadeghi

Behnam Sadeghi has been an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University since 2006. His research spans Islamic thought and law in the early and post-formative periods. In addition, he has made groundbreaking contributions to the history of the Qur'an and the hadith literature in a series of published essays.
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