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A History of Islamic Legal Theories: An Introduction to Sunni Usul al-fiqh

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ISBN-13: 978-0521599863
ISBN-10: 0521599865
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A History of Islamic Legal Theories: An Introduction to Sunni Usul al-fiqh + The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law (Themes in Islamic Law) + Sharī'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...useful for some purposes of reference and basic instruction by students of Islamic jurisprudence...." Aziz Al-Azmeh, History of Religions

"...a lucid, nuanced, and sophisticated study based on extensive reading in the sources. A History of Islamic Legal Theories provides an excellent starting-point to follow these important debates that will help determine the future direction of Muslim societies." David S. Powers, Middle East Quarterly

"For over a decade, Wael B. Hallaq has written articles that qualify him to write the only comprehensive introduction to the science of usul al-fiqh in English. He has successfully exposed the intracacies and complexities of this science in a way that will achieve his declared aim of introducing Islamic legal theory both to students of Islam adn to those unfamiliar with Islamic tradition." Murteza Bedir, MESA Bulletin

"Hallaq evidently loves a good argument, and this book is no exception. He states his claims forthrightly, challenging the rest of the field to respond. There is no doubt that this book will generate responses for years to come, and that the ensuing discussion will move the study of the theoretical underpinnings of Islamic law to a new level." Middle East Journal

"The author of this volume, who is an important scholar of Islamic law, has fashioned a succinct and lucid entree to a complex and difficult subject." Religious Studies Review

"...this book offers reading of great value for anyone curious about the future--as well as the past--of Sunni jurisprudence." Earl Finbar Murphy, H-Net Reviews

Book Description

Wael B. Hallaq is already established as one of the most eminent scholars in the field of Islamic law. In his latest book, he traces the history of Islamic legal theory from its beginnings until the modern period.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521599865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521599863
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Muzaffer Muctehitzade on March 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is more than a History, it basically defines the Usul al-fiqh terms and their development and historically how the concept were being developed, changed and added on. For being about only Sunni Usul al-fikh the scope is limited to a certain sect. Author takes you through early years when he claims no methodology were existed than to Imam Shafii whom he does not put as a founding father in the field of fikh, continues with some quranic concepts like clear/ambigious ayats, foundations of hadits, abbrogation and than into tools of the law, concensus, ijma, qiyas, istihsan, istishab,ijtihad etc. The best part of the book is that author provides examples of each concept for illustration, explains opinions of known mujtehits on the subjects. The book closes with modernist efforts by F.Rahman and especially the author have high regards for Shahrur. The book shows although not in broad acceptance by everybody, the change in methodology from using Quran and Sunna of the Prophet(pbh) to Quran only and socio/politic conditions of the current times and elimination of Ijma or ancient ijtihads.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hallaq's book is excellent in that it manages to capture the essence of each epoch which he covers. Particularly interesting in this book is Hallaq's treatment the birth of usual al-fiqh and its modern interpretations. Reading about the pre-modern zenith of Islamic jurisprudence, which Hallaq completely identifies with the work of al-Shatiby, one becomes totally skeptical to the applicability of Islamic law beyond the realm of religious ritual. However, Hallaq captures well continuity and ingenuity represented in recent reforms achieved by two groups which he will label in the last chapter of his work as the utilitarians and the liberals.
The weakness of Hallaq's work is that its contents are unbalanced. I wish more time was spent on the formation of fiqh and the justification of its existence. Nonetheless, his treatment of these topics is solid. This work can be a little tedious @ times, but usul al-fiqh is itself tedious. In the whole spectrum of the book, one realizes that this itself is part and parcel to the reform occuring today. Excellent work but by no means a decisive study to answer all questions-too short.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Duane on January 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a slow and arduous book, even for someone who knows Arabic and has a basic knowledge of the shari'a and fiqh. A better place for the beginning scholar is Bernard Weiss' book, The Spirit of Islamic Law.

The beginning chapters wherein the method of Islamic jurisprudence is outlined are helpful, the middle section which treats primarily the thought of medieval scholar Shatibi will only be of interest to specialists.

Fortunately, the final chapters provide an engagin and interesting survey of different movements that are afoot, desiring to, in some cases radically, reformulate or reconfigure how the shari'a is discerned and applied to Islamic society today.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Private1 on January 8, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In addition to the existing comments:
This book is extremely well written. Although it reads like a textbook, this merely reflects the high level of scholarship the author brings to his subject. The analysis is precise, thorough, and clearly explained. He touches a point once, addresses it completely, and then moves on. An essential read.
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dogan Gurpinar on June 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is a great book which summarizes the Islamic jurispedence, not in a whiggish style looking back to the medieval ages, but locating the theological essence of fikh, which is not only a meaningless study on Quran but a compilation of hundreds of years which has its ortodoxy established in 10th century.
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