Is Islamic Legal Theory Conservative?

There are plenty of reasons to say that it is. The corpus of revealed prooftexts is closely guarded and ranked by the decisions of hadith critics of old. The meaning of each word is governed by prescribed literal interpretations that must be followed in the absence of contrary evidence. When prooftexts conflict, abrogation settles the … Continue reading Is Islamic Legal Theory Conservative?

Istanbul conference brings postclassical uṣūl al-fiqh into the limelight

The academic study of Islamic legal theory in the English–speaking world has been marked by several landmark gatherings: in Princeton (1983), Alta, Utah (1999), and Istanbul (2016 and now October 2019). The latest, held October 15–17 at Istanbul University, for the first time gave equal attention to the formative, classical, postclassical, and modern periods of … Continue reading Istanbul conference brings postclassical uṣūl al-fiqh into the limelight

Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers – Afterthoughts

Two points remain to be made at the end of this series, arising from a reaction to, and an interaction of relevance to, the previous blog posts. First, an excellent graduate student at Istanbul Şehir University (Ali Rıza Işın), who is as far as one gets from being a naïve individual, decided to feign naiveté and … Continue reading Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers – Afterthoughts

Law and Economic Life in the Islamic World: A Teaching Post

By Fahad Ahmad Bishara. Reposted from the Legal History Blog with permission from the author. For this post, instead of giving reflections on research or on writing in Indian Ocean legal history, I thought I’d write about something lots of us do and talk about: teaching. It is, after all, that time in the semester, isn’t it? … Continue reading Law and Economic Life in the Islamic World: A Teaching Post

Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (4-4)

A minimally professionalized lawyer-advocate is less of an independent agent with interests diverging from those of their appointers. This, in a nutshell, is the image I depicted in three previous posts. If each member of society contemplates needing to defend themselves and their associates in court, they would think differently of rights, laws, and justice. … Continue reading Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (4-4)

Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (3-4)

In both Roman and Islamic law, legal representation is not limited to court appearances on behalf of a principal. It is more or less the default in everyday life that men and women (and even children), educated and uneducated, rich and poor—all need to be represented by others, and that need is presumed to arise … Continue reading Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (3-4)

Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (2-4)

At the end of the last post we met the negotiorum gestor, an administrator of the business of another, even without any mandate from the principal. The argument for this and for the more recognizable representative, who receives an explicit appointment by the principal, we learn (from Ulpian), was made from “necessity.”  In the Digest, … Continue reading Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (2-4)

Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (1-4)

INTRODUCTION TO A SERIES OF FOUR POSTS In this series, I aim to play with a few ideas. First, I will imagine a society without heavily professionalized sophists who can argue either side in a legal dispute, i.e., lawyer-advocates (posts 1-2). The historical models I employ (Roman and Islamic law) allow me to underscore the … Continue reading Commentary :: Let’s Lose Lawyers (1-4)

Recent Scholarship: Fadel and Monette on the English Translation of the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik b. Anas

"Introduction to the English Translation of the Muwatta' of Imam Malik b. Anas, Recension of Yahya b. Yahya al-Laythi (Royal Moroccan Edition, 2013)," Mālik b. Anas, al-Muwaṭṭaʾ -- Recension of Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā al-Laythī (d. 234/848), edited and translated by Mohammad Fadel, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Connell Monette, American Academy Casablanca. The Muwatta' of Malik b. Anas … Continue reading Recent Scholarship: Fadel and Monette on the English Translation of the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik b. Anas

Slavery and Freedom in the Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā (d. 234/848) Recension of the Muwaṭṭaʾ of Mālik b. Anas

The years I spent working on the forthcoming translation of the Muwaṭṭaʾ overlapped in part with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”), and its claim to a caliphate. Among other outrages, ISIS introduced certain forms of slavery to the territory under its control, most prominently, concubinage. This decision was ostensibly … Continue reading Slavery and Freedom in the Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā (d. 234/848) Recension of the Muwaṭṭaʾ of Mālik b. Anas