Contemporary Ijtihad

Contemporary Ijtihad: Limits and Controversies

L. Ali Khan
Hisham M. Ramadan
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Ijtihad
    Book Description:

    The book examines the challenges and limits of contemporary ijtihad in the context of diverse needs of Muslim cultures and communities living in Muslim and non-Muslim nations and continents, including Europe and North America.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4602-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. iv-vi)
    L. Ali Khan
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    This book studies the jurodynamics of Islamic law in evolutionary spatiotemporal contexts. Written from the internal viewpoint of Muslims, the book discusses the resurgence that Islamic law is experiencing in Muslim communities across the world. The internal viewpoint takes for granted the core Islamic belief that the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah are divine texts, valid all the time and in all places. The universality of Islamic divine texts, however, is not synonymous with natural law articulated in classical Greek and Roman literature, including the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. While natural law may emanate from reason, intuition, experience,...

  5. 1 Classical Era of Ijtihad, 632–875
    (pp. 14-46)

    The classical era of ijtihad, which lasted for about 250 years (632–875), was a period of astounding jurisprudential research and creativity. A critical awareness of this period is valuable for understanding contemporary ijtihad. The classical period underscores a simple but powerful thesis that Islamic law is inherently dynamic and diverse, responsive to customs, cultures, and commerce, and to the diversity of nations, communities, and global conditions. The classical era also demonstrates that God’s Law animates the physical universe and systems of knowledge on a daily basis. Islamic law in all times and in all places must, therefore, proactively respond...

  6. 2 Free Markets of Fiqh
    (pp. 47-79)

    Since the founding of Islam in the early seventh century (610–32), Islamic law has developed through free markets of jurisprudence, which may be called iswaq al-fiqh or fiqh markets. A fiqh market consists of jurists (muftis), scholars (mujtahids), and followers (ashab). Muftis and mujtahids serve as opiniojurists. They offer juristic opinions on matters of law. When a new legal issue arises that cannot be resolved under the existing body of Islamic law, Muslim opiniojurists offer legal opinions consistent with the Basic Code, the Qur’an, and the Sunnah. These opinions, known as fatwas, compete in the fiqh markets to win...

  7. 3 Islamic Positive Law
    (pp. 80-112)

    Classical fiqh, legal methods, old and new schools of jurisprudence, modern juristic opinions, constitutions, civil codes, international law, qanun (legislation), local customs, case law, and regulations, all these bodies of law constitute Islamic positive law. By contrast, as noted in prior chapters, the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah are divine texts that comprise the Basic Code of Islam. The bodies of positive law and the Basic Code together form Islamic law. Islamic law is a broader term that includes both divine texts and positive law. Note again for purposes of clarity, however, that the Basic Code is the divine part...

  8. 4 Islamic Constitutionalism
    (pp. 113-145)

    Islamic constitutionalism is an integral part of contemporary ijtihad. As its defining attribute, an Islamic constitution submits to supremacy of the Basic Code, the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah. Historically, constitutionalism has not been critical to the advancement of Islamic law. For centuries, Islamic law has developed without any notion of constitutionalism. The classical fiqh markets knew no constitution, nor was their vibrancy dependent on one. The history of law in all legal traditions demonstrates that a viable body of law may come into existence without a written constitution, it may continue to develop without a written constitution, and it...

  9. 5 Covenants with Non-Muslims
    (pp. 146-180)

    Millions of non-Muslims live as permanent residents in Muslim states. Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, and non-believers who subscribe to no God-based belief systems are, and have been, permanent residents of Muslim states during all time periods. Hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims live in Muslim states as migrant workers. Since the dawn of Islam in the seventh century, non-Muslim faith communities have lived in close proximity with Muslim communities, sharing language, culture, and natural and economic resources. Law-based efforts to offer fair and dignified treatment to non-Muslims have been an integral part of Islamic civilization. Every legal system, out of...

  10. 6 Western Views of Islamic Law
    (pp. 181-214)

    This chapter examines the external scholarship, authored by non-Muslims, about Islam and Islamic law and asks the question whether such scholarship can be efficacious in influencing contemporary ijtihad. As noted in Chapter 2, external scholarship, mostly published in the West, can influence contemporary ijtihad by showing the way to improve, even modify, some sources of Islamic positive law, such as constitutions, local customs, legislation, and international law. External scholarship can be highly influential in specialized markets, such as finance, where non-Muslim experts can offer advice in structuring technical rules. However, external scholarship faces difficulty, at times fierce opposition, when it...

  11. 7 Muslim Diaspora Law
    (pp. 215-248)

    Muslim diaspora law is the Islamic law that deals with specific and unique issues facing Muslim diasporas, that is, Muslim populations permanently settled in non-Muslim states. Muslim diaspora law, just like any other part of Islamic law, must be compatible with the Basic Code, the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah. Because Muslim emigrants face social, economic, and political circumstances that Muslims living in Islamic states do not, Muslim diaspora law dealing with worldly matters (muamalaat) may differ from the conventional norms of Islamic law. The difference of circumstance, however, cannot compromise the basic principles of Islamic law. For the most...

  12. Glossary
    (pp. 249-252)
  13. Index
    (pp. 253-258)