Authority, Continuity, And Change In Islamic Law
Wael B. Hallaq is regarded as one of the leading scholars in the field of Islamic Law. His latest book is about the function of authority of Islamic law, and how it is constructed, augmented, and utilized. In a comprehensive intellectual trawl through the intricacies of the law, the author demonstrates how that authority--at once religious and moral but essentially epistemic in nature--has always encompassed the power to motivate the processes of continuity and change. The role of the schools in augmenting these processes cannot be doubted. However, as the author shows, it was the construction of the absolutist authority of the school founder, an image which he suggests was actually developed later in history, that maintained the foundations of school methodology and hermeneutics. The defense of that methodology, reasoned and highly calculated, in turn gave rise to and infinite variety of individual legal opinions, ultimately accommodating and legitimizing changes in the law. In this way, the author concludes that not only was Islamic law capable of change, but that the mechanisms of legal change were embedded in its very structure despite its essentially conservative nature. This book will be welcomed by specialist and scholars in Islamic law for its rigor and innovation.
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