LAW: Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-First Century

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LAW Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-First Century, by Rudolph Peters. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. xi + 190 pages. Maps. Gloss, to p. 196. Bibl. to p. 207. Further reading to p. 211. Index to p. 219. $70 cloth; $27.99 paper.

This second book in the series Themes in Islamic Law, like the first,1 is a significant contribution to the subject that serves both as an accessible introduction for those new to the field, as well as a detailed study that will satisfy the needs of scholars and experts. The author explains the main jurisprudential principles of Islamic criminal law and procedure and their evolution through the classical, colonial, and modern eras. At the same time, he presents an enormous array of detailed information, such as the types and methods of punishments, the relationship between scholarly and governmental authority in the ordering and dispensation of justice, and the many subtle differences between religious and secular rules of the substantive criminal law. Numerous summaries from reports of judicial decisions andfatwa collections supplement and illustrate his elaboration of legal principles. His thorough discussion of how Islamic criminal law continues to be applied in Saudi Arabia, and has been revived in five other modern states - Libya, Iran, Pakistan, the Sudan, and northern Nigeria - is an especially valuable study of the relationship between law and modern governance in the Islamic world.

Selecting several area studies - the Ottoman Empire before and during the colonial period, the effects of the imposition of European legal thought and administration on the Islamic law systems of India and Nigeria, and the modern state studies noted above - the author clearly identifies several broad trends in Islamic criminal law. Perhaps most significant is the evolving relationship between the hadd offenses prescribed in the Qur'an and Sunna, which were and still are seldom enforced due to the difficulties of proof, and the broad discretionary punishments by secular authorities under the concepts of ta 'zir and siyasa. …