This course will introduce students to classical Islamic legal theory and some applications of positive law in the Sunni tradition. After a brief review of the seminal controversies that defined the "formative period," and the development of Islamic legal theory, we will examine the interpretive modus operandi of the full-blown schools of law in the"post-formative" era. This will include an examination of such key issues as ijtihad versus taqlid, the madhhab (or school of law), the legal responsum (fatwa), legal ecclecticism, and the issue of legal change, stasis and borrowing. This will be carried out via a general overview of a number of areas of positive law, e.g., marriage, divorce, abortion, child custody and legal procedure. The course will conclude with a look at developments in Islamic legal thinking in modern times, including an examination of some legal response (in translation) to some important modern controversies and a few samples of jurisprudential writings of Muslim scholars in the East and West. All required readings will be in English.
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