AL MUSTASFA MIN ILM AL USUL: ON LEGAL THEORY OF MUSLIM JURISPUDENCEAL
AL MUSTASFA MIN ILM AL USUL – Book Sample
INTRODUCTION – AL MUSTASFA MIN ILM AL USUL
In studying the great contributors to Islamic civilization, one observes that most are distinguished by their mastery of one or two disciplines that earn them fame or credibility within their specialties. Malik, Abu H.anifa, al-Shafi ‘i, and Ibn H anbal are not mentioned but their impact on jurisprudence comes to mind. AIKindi and al-Farabi are remembered for their engagement with and contributions to philosophy and its issues. The mention of Sibawayh and al-Jab.i evokes thoughts of grammar and literature. The names Bukhari and Muslim are synonymous with l.!.adith. AIAsh’ari and Maturidi are associated with kalam, and the name Nizam al-Mulk brings to mind a memorable political career.
But it is a different case with the mention of ‘The Proof of Islam,’ Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111 ). He is a composite of great personalities, a master of various disciplines. Regarding philosophy, he ranks among the most influential Muslim thinkers, changing the course of history in that field in the Muslim world and possibly beyond. Concerning tasawwuf, he is one of its most prominent inspirers, though no formal order ever carried his name. Nevertheless, his efforts brought about the great conciliation of sufism and orthodox Islam.
His studies in kalam are important and original. In the field of Law, he has been described by some as the “consummate imam of the fuqaha’ .”and the details of Islamic jurisprudence have shaped works in thesee fields until today. Indeed, one finds hardly a book on usul written after Ghazali that does not rely upon him, quote him extensively, or engage him in debate-especially with reference to his book al-Mustasfa.
Ghazali the philosopher, the sufi, the theologian
Yet it is astonishing that Ghazali the philosopher, the sufi, the theologian, and the reviver has so fixed the attention of modern researchers, East and West, as to eclipse what must be acknowledged as his life’s central endeavor, the breathing of the spirit of Islam into the corpus of the religion’s jurisprudence and the coherent and cogent formulation of its juristic doctrine.
In this sense, he is, shall we. say, less fortunate than many a lesser legist whose contributions to Islamic Law pale in comparison to the great Ghazali’ s but whose efforts have nonetheless found fame and caught the eye of modern-day scholars. For example, Ghazali’s rival lbn Rushd has received more academic analysis as a jurist than he. A. Laimeche’s study and translation into French of the Book of Marriage in lbn Rushd’s Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtas.id is more than what Ghazali the jurist has
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