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An Introduction to Islamic Family Law: A Teaching and Learning Manual

This teaching and learning manual has been developed with the aim of supporting teachers and students interested in Islamic law in general and Islamic family law in particular, in both Muslim and non-Muslim jurisdictions.

It forms part of a series of manuals and materials including an Islamic law Bibliography and a Glossary of Arabic and English Terms which have been developed for teaching and learning Islamic law. We suggest that prior to working with this document, readers look at the companion manuals Approaches to Teaching and Learning of Islamic Law: Sharing some national and international Perspectives and Course Manual on Sources of Islamic Law.

At the date of writing, few higher education institutions in the UK offer Islamic Law courses. Where they do exist they are often short or elective courses, offered as part of degrees in law or in Islamic Studies. One aim of this module is to encourage more teachers to take up the challenge of teaching Islamic Law. As part of a course on Islamic Studies it is crucial that a student has an understanding of Islamic civilisation, encompassing as it does history, theology, philosophy, political thought and sociology. For “regular” law students the study of Islamic law has many benefits. It equips the student with the skill of comparative analysis. For prospective 21st century practitioners a working knowledge of the legal norms of the Muslim population is useful in contextualising their engagement with any area of law, be it family, immigration, contract, finance or crime.

In Muslim jurisdictions by contrast, Islamic law courses form part of the compulsory offerings at any law school. Often based on the school of jurisprudence locally prevailing, Islamic law is in these settings all too frequently presented in a sterile, descriptive form. We believe that the need for a teaching and learning resource responding to the needs of constituencies, seeking a critical engagement with the subject cannot be overstated. If contemporary lawyers of the Muslim world are to effectively grapple with the challenge of developing and adapting Islamic law in the future, a comprehensive, inclusive and innovative approach must be encouraged.
This manual therefore attempts to contribute towards filling the gaps in both Muslim and non-Muslim jurisdictions.

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