Before the Eternal: Muslim Law and the Eternity of Divine Speech

In: Islamic Law and Society
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This essay examines the interconnections between the theological controversy around the eternity of the Qurʾān and the legal theory debate on the normative categorization of human actions before the advent of divine revelation (ḥukm al-ashyāʾ qabla wurūd al-sharʿ). Prior to the sixth/twelfth century, legal theoreticians and theologians rarely connected the two debates. Early in this century, they started to argue that a scholar’s position on the ‘eternity of divine speech’ should inform his position on the ‘before revelation’ question. I trace the changing relationship between the two debates and use my examination to better understand the nature of the relationship between speculative theology and legal theory.

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