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An Introduction to Islamic Law Reprint Edition
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The first half is more interesting. Some of the things I learned:
*The author tells a story of how Islamic law evolved. After the first decades of Islam, a few pious Muslims began to give advice on ritual matters. As these men met like-minded men, they created schools of legal specialists. As traditions (allegedly generated by the Prophet Mohammed and his associates) become widespread, the scholars combined those traditions with their own interpretations of the Koran to create the major schools of sharia. A few sects over time have diverged from these schools, though most such movements have died out. Most of this evolution was over by about 1000; according to the author, sharia has evolved far less since 1000, as later scholars deferred to the old masters (much as the Talmud has become effectively canonized in Judaism).
*There is no one universally applicable Sharia. Even within the dominant Sunni sect, there are several schools of Sharia, each of which evolved in a different part of the Islamic world- kind of like Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish law. The differences among these schools (like those between Sephardim and Ashkenazim) tend to be nonideological.
*Like Jewish law, Islamic law has occasionally proved to be flexible. Although sharia prohibits interest, Islamic scholars have created ways of facilitating commerce while staying within the letter of the law.Read more ›
The book does however cover the four schools of Sunni Islam as best it can and makes a decent attempt to provide the reader with at least a basis to study an extreamly complex and misunderstood leagal system.
Worth a read but read with caution.