AUTHORITY, CONTINUITY, AND CHANGE IN ISLAMIC LAW
Authority, Continuity, and Change in Islamic Law by Wael B. Hallaq is an in-depth exploration of the function of authority in Islamic law and how it is constructed, augmented, and utilized. Considered one of the leading scholars in the field of Islamic law, Hallaq’s book offers a comprehensive look into the intricacies of the law and demonstrates how authority – which is at once religious and moral but essentially epistemic in nature – has always encompassed the power to stimulate continuity and change.
Hallaq begins by providing a framework for his enquiry, looking into juristic typologies to better understand the different types of authority present in Islamic law. He then moves on to discuss the early concept of ijtihad and the later construction of authority that led to the rise and augmentation of school authority. The author shows how the construction of the absolutist authority of the school founder was actually developed later in history and how it maintained the foundations of school methodology and hermeneutics. The defense of that methodology, in turn, gave rise to an infinite variety of individual legal opinions, ultimately accommodating and legitimizing changes in the law.
The author delves further into the concept of taqlid, which he describes as the reasoned and highly calculated insistence on abiding by a particular authoritative legal doctrine. Hallaq argues that taqlid is not blind or mindless acquiescence to the opinions of others but a justified reasoning of the established doctrine. In this way, Islamic law, like any other legal tradition, is inherently disposed to accommodating change while being conservative by nature. He explains that taqlid makes these seemingly contradictory states of affairs possible.
In Authority, Continuity, and Change in Islamic Law, Hallaq emphasizes that in the law, both continuity and change are two sides of the same coin, both involving the reasoned defense of a doctrine. While continuity requires the sustained defense of an established doctrine, change demands the defense of a new or less authoritative one. Hallaq argues that reasoned defense is required to stimulate change as much as it is to preserve continuity.
The author concludes that Islamic law is not only capable of change, but that the mechanisms of legal change are embedded in its very structure, despite its essentially conservative nature. This is a significant contribution to the field of Islamic law, as it challenges the common misconception that the law is stagnant and stuck in the past. Hallaq’s rigor and innovation in examining the function of authority in Islamic law will, therefore, be welcomed by specialists and scholars in the field.
- JURISTIC TYPOLOGIES: A FRAMEWORK FOR ENQUIRY
- EARLY IJTIHAD AND THE LATER CONSTRUCTION OF AUTHORITY
- THE RISE AND AUGMENTATION OF SCHOOL AUTHORITY
- TAQLID: AUTHORITY, HERMENEUTICS, AND FUNCTION
- OPERATIVE TERMINOLOGY AND THE DYNAMICS OF LEGAL DOCTRINE
- AWJAH ASHBAH, AND SAWAB
- MAFTI BI-HI, MAMUL BI-HI
- MUKHTAR, IKHTIYAR
- THE JURISCONSULT, THE AUTHOR–JURIST, AND LEGAL CHANGE
- SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
- PRIMARY SOURCES
- SECONDARY SOURCES
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