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LUCIS Visiting Fellow Lecture

The Evolution of Islamic Legal Thought (Fiqh): Rulings and Hermeneutics

Wednesday 1 May 2019
Free to visit; please register
LUCIS Visiting Fellow: Christian Müller
P.N. van Eyckhof 3
P.N. van Eyckhof 3
2311 BV Leiden

This lecture provides insights into the “making of” the jurists’ law, how its rulings emerged, were transmitted and transformed into a body of sacred rules. We can trace these transformations from the schools basic texts (“mother-books”) that collected the teachings of its “grounding fathers” during the 8th and 9th century, towards the authoritative “abbreviations” by prominent 10th-century jurists that define the school’s body of legal rulings. Extensive commentaries, supra-commentaries and gloses illustrate the auto-referential evolution of legal thinking within the now institutionalized “guild schools” during the following centuries. Legal hermeneutics, the theory how legal rulings are grounded in sacred normativity (uṣūl al-fiqh), played an essential role in legitimizing the schools’ existing rulings and to distingish them from the law finding process of living jurists, then called legal response (fatwā). The accretive use of a shariatic vocabulary in legal hermeneutics illustrates the changes in the perception of the jurists’ law. Various factors then may explain the emergence of the Sharia-law with its dense casuistry of sacralized rulings since the 13th century.

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