which Muslim sovereigns interpreted and enacted laws in view of justice or the general welfare. Such actions were founded in the very sources of law (usul al-fiqh), the Quran, Sunnah of the Prophet and ijma.
The early Muslims' religious vision of realizing the Will of God in history inspired not only the vast geographical expansion of Islam but also the early development of Islamic law. This concern about knowing God's Will in order to implement it produced classical Muslim law. The science of Muslim jurisprudence within these first centuries devised both the sources of law (usul al-fiqh) and substantive law itself (furu al-fiqh). As we have seen, according to classical legal theory that has predominated down to the twentieth century, in the development of law, four sources of jurisprudence were employed: the Quran, Sunnah of the Prophet, qiyas, and ijma. Laws were derived from the revealed texts of the Quran and the Sunnah, or from the product of the jurists' analogical reasoning based upon these texts. The authority for their interpretations came from what was considered the infallible ijma of the scholars. At the same time, there was recognition within the schools themsleves of subsidiary principles of equity previously described (istihsan, istislah, and istishab).
However, due to a number of factors, the interaction of these sources and the continued dynamism of legal development after the tenth century were stifled. A series of events were to gradually stop this creative process: "the closing of the door of ijtihad," growing political fragmentation and decay, assimilated customs contrary to the Quranic spirit, and finally the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century. All played a part in halting creative legal activity.
The relationship of ijtihad and ijma had, during the formative period of law, been a dynamic one in which the fresh ijtihad (interpretation) of the scholar was either accepted or rejected by the community. In the tenth century, however, the consensus of the majority of legal scholars determined that the elaboration of
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Publication information: Book title: Women in Muslim Family Law. Contributors: John L. Esposito - Author. Publisher: Syracuse University Press. Place of publication: Syracuse, NY. Publication year: 1982. Page number: 10.
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