Islamic Law in Theory

Studies on Jurisprudence in Honor of Bernard Weiss


The contributions of Bernard Weiss to the study of the principles of jurisprudence (uṣūl al-fiqh) are recognized in a series of contributions on Islamic legal theory. These thirteen chapters study a range of Islamic texts and employ contemporary legal, religious, and hermeneutical theory to study the methodology of Islamic law.

Contributors include: Peter Sluglett, Ahmed El Shamsy, Éric Chaumont, A. Kevin Reinhart, Mohammad Fadel, Jonathan Brockopp, Christian Lange, Raquel M. Ukeles, Paul Powers, Robert Gleave, Wolfhart Heinrichs, Joseph Lowry, Rudolph Peters, Frank E. Vogel

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Biographical Note

A. Kevin Reinhart is an Associate Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College specializing in Islamic religion. His research has focused on Islamic law and theology, as well as ritual and ritual theory. He is the author of Before Revelation: The Boundaries of Muslim Moral Knowledge (SUNY,1995), and edited (with Dennis Washburn) Converting Cultures: Religion, Ideology and Transformations of Modernity (Brill, 2007) and (with Hasan Kayalı) Archivum Ottomanicum special issue on “Late Ottoman Religion” (Vol. 19: Harrassowitz, 2002). His Lived Islam: Colloquial Religion in a Cosmopolitan Tradition, is forthcoming.

Robert Gleave is Professor of Arabic Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, UK. His research focuses on the history of Islamic legal theory, particularly in the Shīʿī school. He is author of Inevitable Doubt: Two Theories of Shīʿī Jurisprudence (Brill, 2000), Scripturalist Islam: The History and Doctrines of the Akhbārī Shīʿī School of Thought (Brill, 2007) and Islam and Literalism: Literal Meaning and Interpretation in Islamic Legal Theory (EUP, 2012).

Table of contents

Introductory Sections
Peter Sluglett, University of Utah, Department of History: Memories of Bernard Weiss & Bibliography of the Writings of Bernard Weiss

Robert Gleave and A. Kevin Reinhart: The Spirit of Islamic Law. Introduction

Law and Reason

Chapter 1
Ahmed El Shamsy, University of Chicago, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations: The Wisdom of God’s Law: Two Theories

Chapter 2
Éric Chaumont, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique: La notion de wajh al-ḥikmah dans les uṣūl al-fiqh d’Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī (m. 476/1083)

Chapter 3
A. Kevin Reinhart, Dartmouth College, Department of Religion: Ritual Action and Practical Action: The Incomprehensibility of Muslim Devotional Action

Chapter 4
Mohammad Fadel, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law: Istafti qalbaka wa in aftāka al-nasu wa aftūka: The Ethical Obligations of the Muqallid Between Autonomy and Trust

Law and Religion

Chapter 5
Jonathan Brockopp, Pennsylvania State University, Department of History: Saḥnūn’s Mudawwanah and the Piety of the “ Sharīʿah-minded”

Chapter 6
Christian Lange, University of Utrecht, Department of Religious Studies and Theology: Sins, Expiation and Non-rationality in Ḥanafī and Shāfiʿī fiqh

Chapter 7
Raquel M. Ukeles, National Library of Israel, Curator, Islam and Middle East Collection: Jurists’ Responses to Popular Devotional Practices in Medieval Islam

Law and Language

Chapter 8
Paul Powers, Lewis & Clark College, Department of Religion: Finding God and Humanity in Language: Islamic Legal Assessments as the Meeting Point of the Divine and Human

Chapter 9
Robert Gleave, University of Exeter, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies: Literal Meaning and Interpretation in Early Imāmī Law

Chapter 10
Wolfhart Heinrichs, Harvard University, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations: “Genres” in the Kitāb al-Luqṭah of Ibn Rushd’s Bidāyat al-mujtahid wa-nihāyat al-muqtaṣid

Diversity and Authority

Chapter 11
Joseph Lowry, The University of Pennsylvania, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations: Is There Something Postmodern About Uṣūl Al-Fiqh? Ijmāʿ, Constraint, and Interpretive Communities

Chapter 12
Rudolph Peters, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies: Body and Spirit of Islamic Law: Madhhab Diversity in Ottoman Documents from the Dakhla Oasis, Egypt

Chapter 13
Frank E. Vogel, Harvard University, Islamic Legal Studies Program: Tracing Nuance in Māwardī’s al-Aḥkām al-Sulṭāniyyah: Implicit Framing of Constitutional Authority



Those interested in Islamic law, ritual, and legal theory, and legal theory more generally.