Recent Scholarship: El Shamsy on Islamic Legal History

SHARIAsource Senior Scholar Ahmed El Shamsy recently published an article in the Journal of the American Oriental Society on the historical development of Islamic legal theory.

“Bridging the Gap: Two Early Texts of Islamic Legal Theory”

This article introduces two surviving, very early legal-theoretical texts, written by Ibn Surayj (d. 306/918) and al-Khaffāf (fl. first half of the fourth/tenth century). It seeks to show that these texts were not self-standing works, but rather formed part of larger works on positive law, thus calling into question the almost exclusive focus on legal theory as a stand-alone genre in previous historiography. It also seeks to shed new light on the continuities and discontinuities in this genre in its earliest stages, since the two texts fall squarely within what has been seen as a gap in the literature between the Risāla of al-Shāfiʿī (d. 204/820) and the so-called classical literature on legal theory that arose in the late fourth/tenth century.