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An Introduction to Islamic Law Reprint Edition

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198254737
ISBN-10: 0198254733
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Editorial Reviews

Review

`'an unmissable work on its subject'' Muslim World Book Review

About the Author

Joseph Schacht is at Columbia University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; Reprint edition (October 27, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198254733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198254737
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book is really two books: a first half which describes the evolution of Muslim law (also known as Sharia), and a second half which lists Muslim legal principles in a wide variety of areas. The latter half is basically a laundry list of legal rules, and is about as interesting to read as a laundry list.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Schacht still remains a towering figure in the study of Islamic Law even after ~50 yrs., and his introduction gives you the ideal figure figure as a guide. This work is not just a simplistic review of Islamic law, but it is also a work of scholarship. While it is unfortunate that his most important work, ON MUHAMMADAN JURISPRUDENCE, is no longer in print, this work serves as a good alternative and even a much more readable entry point to this field of scholarship.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THis is an absolutely fabulous book that will give you a great understanding of Islamic (Sharia) Law without all the political overtones of today. I very strongly recommend it.
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By Gogol on July 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a little dated but it still remains an interesting read non the less. Schacht also wrote "On Muhammadan Jurisprudence" of which there is an critical editon by Professor Azami published by the Islamic Text Society as to say the least, there are a number of faults with both that book and this one.

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.
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