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Book: Islamic Law and the State by Sherman A. Jackson

The book “Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi by Sherman A. Jackson swims against the current of modern Islamic legal scholarship.

This is a book which swims against the current of modern Islamic legal scholarship. Islamic modernism and Western scholarship have focused on the existence of, or potential for, creative adjustment to changing social and historical circumstances. This focus has led many authors to emphasize the significance of independent reasoning (ijtihad) on the part of jurists, at the expense of delegation of authority, or imitation, as the term taqlid is frequently translated. On this basis, scholars have differed in their estimation of the significance of ijtihad in Islamic legal history. Some. Frequently motivated by a desire to reform Islamic law for modern purpose, have emphasized the significance of Ijtihad as legitimate device for reinterpreting the law. Others, dissatisfied with traditional Islamic legal though have condemned that though as insufficiently flexible to accommodate modern realities.

As Sherman Jackson correctly points out, such debates are out of tough with the mainstream of Sunni legal tradition (and, in a somewhat different manner, with Shiite). Since the late eleventh century, the vast majority of Sunni jurists have chosen to affiliate with one of four schools of law, or modhhabs, each named after a deceased eponym. The eponym of each school, considered a master jurist, is known as a mujtahid, while the affiliates to his school are known as muqallids. In principle, the muqallid is required to accept the opinions of the mujtahid as authoritative, although, as we will see, the situation is more complicated. This process of affiliation rasised certain historical and theoretical problems, Jackson’s account focuses in two of these problems: pluralism and creativity. Using the work of the well-known Egyptian Maliki Jurist Shihan al-Din al-Qarafi (d. 1283 or 1289 ), especially his book, Kitab al-Ihkam fi Tamyiz al-Fatawa ‘an al-Ahkam wa Tasarrufat al-Dadi was I-Imam (the book of perfecting the distinction between legal response, judicial decisions and the discretionary actions of judges and caliphs), Jackson addresses the problem of taqlid in thirteenth- century Egypt.

Sherman A. Jackson, Ph.D. (1991) in Oriental Studies, University of Pennsylvania, is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Indiana University. He has published several articles on Islamic law and jurisprudence, history and theology.

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