The Spirit of Islamic Law / Edition 1

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This study focuses on a Muslim legal science known in Arabic as usul al-fiqh. Whereas the kindred science of fiqh is concerned with the articulation of actual rules of law, this science elaborates the theoretical and methodological foundations of the law.

The Spirit of Islamic Law outlines the prominent features of Muslim juristic thought: espousal of divine sovereignty; a fixation on divine texts; an uncompromisingly intentionalist approach to the interpretation of those texts; a frank acknowledgment of the fallibility of human endeavor to capture divine intent; a toleration of legal diversity; a moralistic bent grounded in a particular social vision; and finally, a preoccupation with the affairs of private individuals--especially family relations and contracts--coupled with a concern to define the limits of governmental power.

The Spirit of Islamic Law is the fifth book in Georgia's Spirit of Laws series, which illuminates the nature of legal systems throughout the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This concise exposition of Islamic law as a system, including useful distillations of historical debates and cogent discussions of thorny questions in Islamic legal theory, unencumbered by academic jargon and myriad undefined Arabic technical terms, is both refreshing and informative. . . . One would be hard-pressed to find a single volume that provides a better synopsis of the Islamic legal system."--Islamic Law and Society

"Weiss does an excellent job of distilling and translating the specialist work of usul al-fiqh scholarship into a readable but detailed analysis. . . . In its clarity and acumen, this book is highly recommended and should be regarded as superior to earlier introductions to Islamic law."--Religious Studies Review

"[A] lucid and highly nuanced book . . . Incorporates many of the achievements and insights of Western scholars who have worked on Islamic law. . . easily accessible to non-Islamicists and comparativists. Spirit will be a standard text for many years to come."--Law and History Review

"A thoughtful and sophisticated analysis . . . an important analytical framework for future comparative legal studies."--Middle East Studies Association Bulletin

Weiss (Arabic and Islamic studies, U. of Utah-Salt Lake City) focuses on usul al-fiqh, the science concerned with the theoretical and methodological foundations of the law, rather than with the articulation of actual laws. He outlines the prominent features of Muslim juristic thought, such as divine sovereignty and texts, an intentionalist approach to interpretation, an acknowledgment of the fallibility of humans to divine intent, toleration of legal diversity, and a preoccupation with the affairs of private individuals. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820328270
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Series: The Spirit of the Laws Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard G. Weiss is a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the Middle East Center of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He is the author and editor of several books, including The Search for God's Law.
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