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By N. Coulson

ISBN-10: 0852243545

ISBN-13: 9780852243541

The vintage creation to Islamic legislation, tracing its improvement from its origins,through the medieval interval, to its position in smooth Islam.

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By repudiating these undisciplined forms of reasoning and insisting on the exclusive valiclity of strictly regulated analogical reasoning ash-Shafi' i is again systematically pursuing his goal of uniformity. Differences of opinion might still result, but would be cu t to a minimum. AshShafi'i recognises this in a statement which will serve as a concise summary of his legal theory and of the purpose which inspired it. "On points on which there exists an explicit decision of God or a sunna of the Prophet or a consensus of the Muslims, no disagreement is allowed; on the other points scholars must exert their own judgement in search of an indication in one of these three sources ....

A witness, and consequently a reporter, was presumed to possess moral integrity until the contrary was established, and the accepted practice of screening witnesses for this purpose (ta{krya) could hardly be effectively applied to reporters of Traditions in bygone generations. Moreover, a reporter of a Tradition could not be challenged, as a witness could, on the ground that his evidence was biased. For these reasons the parallel between legal testimony and the transmission of Traditions is a superficial one, and the canons of Traditioncriticism, as established by Muslim scholarship, cannot provide any real test of authenticity.

It was a legal theory which expressed, with irrefutable logic, the innate aspirations of Muslim jurisprudence. Expounded with an extraordinary force of persistence and singleness of purpose, it was assured of success. Future jurisprudence, as we shall see, considerably modified ash-Shafi'i's ideas of the relationship between the component parts of his theory; but his fundamental thesis-that the terms of the divine will were more precisely indicated than had hitherto been recognised, that the supreme manifestation of God's will lay in the sunna or practice of Mu}_lammad, and that the function of human reason in law was subsidiary and complementary-was never after him seriously challenged.

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A History of Islamic Law by N. Coulson


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