Contemporary Ijtihad: Limits and Controversies

Contemporary Ijtihad: Limits and Controversies

Contemporary Ijtihad: Limits and Controversies

Contemporary Ijtihad: Limits and Controversies

Synopsis

The resurgence of Islam has generated a strong interest in understanding Islamic law. The challenges of new realities has impressed upon Muslims the need to rethink classical jurisprudence and a powerful contemporary ijtihad-the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources -- has unleashed a tremendous intellectual energy that is transforming legal systems across the Muslim world. This book explores the limits and controversies of this development in the context of the diverse needs of Muslim cultures and communities living in Muslim and non-Muslim nations.

Excerpt

This book composes and refines numerous ideas I have explored in law review articles and opinion editorials over the past ten years. Since 2000, when I wrote Islam as Intellectual Property, a law review article, my views about Islamic law have taken a clear path that instructs me that divine texts, the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah, must never be confused with opinions of the Prophet’s companions and wives, and with the opinions of the founders of Islamic fiqh. I believe that great errors are built upon simple confusions. The doctrine of taqlid is just such a confusion that merged Islamic divine texts with human fiqh. We write this book to reverse the confusion and the consequent error. In doing so, we do not propose to cast away the treasures of fiqh. Fiqh will always remain an integral part of Islamic law. However, fiqh is open to modification and even repeal on a case-by-case basis. We identify contemporary sources of Islamic law, such as constitution, legislation, and case law and propose a simple method, the submission principle, to distinguish between secular law and Islamic law.

On another note, I want to thank Professor Hisham Ramadan for supporting this project. This book would not have been possible without his ceaseless efforts to find a publisher. We eventually and gratefully agreed to publish this book with the Edinburgh University Press. Professor Ramadan read the chapters, proposed changes, and made sure that the divine texts were not misinterpreted. His superior and native knowledge of Arabic has been critical for the accuracy of analysis and explanation. I want to thank my research assistants, Amy Greiner and Kevin Keatley, law students at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. They read the manuscript and provided editorial assistance. Kevin Keatley has been assisting me on a number of projects on Islamic law and Amy Greiner is a committed perfectionist. I wish them good luck. I also want to recognize my two sons, Harun and Kashif, 9 and 7 years old, who were with me while I was writing and refining the typescript.

As it is customary with Muslim scholars to confess, we the authors . . .

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