In May, the Cambridge University Press will release “Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs: Politics and Authority from Cordoba to Cairo and Baghdad,” by Ali Humayun Akhtar (Bates College & University of Wisconsin – Madison). The publisher’s description follows:
What was the relationship between government and religion in Middle Eastern history? In a world of caliphs, sultans, and judges, who exercised political and religious authority? In this book, Ali Humayun Akhtar investigates debates about leadership that involved ruling circles and scholars of jurisprudence and theology. At the heart of this story is a medieval rivalry between three caliphates: the Umayyads of Cordoba, the Fatimids of Cairo, and the Abbasids of Baghdad. In a fascinating revival of Late Antique Hellenism, Aristotelian and Platonic notions of wisdom became a key component of how these caliphs debated their authority as political leaders. By tracing how these political debates impacted the theological scholars and their own conception of communal guidance, Akhtar offers a new picture of premodern political authority and the connections between Western and Islamic civilizations. It will be of use to students and specialists of the premodern and modern Middle East.
In November, Cambridge University Press released “The Economics of Ottoman Justice: Settlement and Trial in the Sharia Courts,” by Metin Coşgel (University of Connecticut) and Boğaç Ergene (University of Vermont). The publisher’s description follows:
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire endured long periods of warfare, facing intense financial pressures and new international mercantile and monetary trends. The Empire also experienced major political-administrative restructuring and socioeconomic transformations. In the context of this tumultuous change, The Economics of Ottoman Justice examines Ottoman legal practices and the sharia court’s operations to reflect on the judicial system and provincial relationships. Metin Coşgel and Boğaç Ergene provide a systematic depiction of socio-legal interactions, identifying how different social, economic, gender and religious groups used the court, how they settled their disputes, and which factors contributed to their success at trial. Using an economic approach, Coşgel and Ergene offer rare insights into the role of power differences in judicial interactions, and into the reproduction of communal hierarchies in court, and demonstrate how court use patterns changed over time.
In March, Palgrave Macmillan released “Formation of the Islamic Jurisprudence: From the Time of the Prophet Muhammad to the 4th Century” by Labeeb Ahmed Bsoul (Khalifa University, United Arab Emirates). The publisher’s description follows:
Islamic jurisprudence has undergone many historical changes since the time of Prophet Muhammad, and researchers have divided its development into several historical stages. In Formation of the Islamic Jurisprudence, Labeeb Ahmed Bsoul presents the history of Islamic jurisprudence from its earliest period. Drawing upon a wide variety of Arabic primary sources to provide an inclusive, unbiased view of the history of jurisprudence, this book covers all the main centers of legal scholarship in the Islamic world, addressing not only the four well-known Sunni legal schools but also defunct Sunni and sectarian legal schools. Bsoul makes intellectual history the center of attention, recognizing the contributions of women to legal scholarship, and avoids attributing academic developments to the events of political history. This book presents a new reading and understanding as Bsoul critically assesses the history, development, and impact of Islamic jurisprudence in the Muslim world.
In May, Lexington Books will release “Islamic Law and Muslim Same-Sex Unions” by Junaid Jahangir (MacEwan University) and Hussein Abdullatif (pediatric endocrinologist, Children’s Hospital of Alabama & University of Alabama Hospital). The publisher’s description follows:
This book is written with the objective of reasonably addressing the need of Muslim gays and lesbians for a life which involves intimacy, affection and companionship within the confines of a legal contract. Contemporary conservative Muslim leaders unreasonably promote false marriages with straight spouses, failing which they prescribe the “solution” of permanent celibacy as a “test.” This book delves into an extensive scholarship on the same sources that conservative Muslim leaders draw on—the Qur’an, Hadith and jurisprudence. It is argued that the primary sources of Muslim knowledge addressed sexual acts between the same gender in the context of inhospitality, exploitation, coercion and disease, but not true same-sex unions; past Muslim scholarship is silent on the issue of sexual orientation and Muslim same-sex unions. The arguments of contemporary conservative Muslim leaders are deconstructed and the case for Muslim same-sex unions is made based on jurisprudential principles and thorough arguments from within the Muslim tradition.
In February, I.B. Tauris will release “Minority Jurisprudence in Islam: Muslim Communities in the West” by Susanne Olsson (Södertörn University). The publisher’s description follows:
According to many Islamic jurists, the world is divided between dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam) and dar al-harb (the abode of war). This dual division of the world has led to a great amount of juridical discussion concerning what makes a territory part of dar al-Islam, what the status of Muslims living outside of this is, and whether they are obliged to obey Islamic jurisprudence. Susanne Olsson examines the differing understandings of dar al-Islam and dar al-harb, as well as related concepts, such as jihad and takfir. She thereby is able to explore how these concepts have been utilised, transformed and negotiated throughout history. As the subject of Muslims living in Europe is such a topical and sometimes controversial one, this book will appeal to researchers of modern Islam as integral to the Western experience.
Last December, I.B. Tauris Publishers published The Early History of Ismaili Jurisprudence: Law Under the Fatimids edited by Agostino Cilardo (Naples Eastern University). The publisher’s description follows.
Since the early 1930s, researchers have shed light on the literary production of the Ismailis. The cataloguing of these works has been carried out by Ivanow, Fyzee, Goriawala, Poonawala, Gacek, Cortese and de Blois. Many works attributed to Ismaili scholars, however, are still unavailable, either because they remain hidden in private collections, or because they have not survived. As regards Ismaili law, in particular, it is still a largely unexplored field of study. Al-Qadi Abu Hanifa al-Nu’man is generally considered as the founder and the greatest exponent of Ismaili jurisprudence. Many of his works have been lost; scattered information on some others is found here and there; some works are still in manuscript form; few others have been published.This book is a critical edition and translation of al-Nu’man’s Minhaj al-fara’id, based on the three known copies of it. It deals with the law of inheritance, one of the most difficult Islamic law institutions throughout Islamic law.
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish Narratives of Islamic Legal Theory (OUP March 2012) by Rumee Ahmed (University of British Columbia). The publisher’s description follows.
In the critical period when Islamic law first developed, a new breed of jurists developed a genre of legal theory treatises to explore how the fundamental moral teachings of Islam might operate as a legal system. Seemingly rhetorical and formulaic, these manuals have long been overlooked for the insight they offer into the early formation of Islamic conceptions of law and its role in social life.
In this book, Rumee Ahmed shatters the prevailing misconceptions of the purpose and form of the Islamic legal treatise. Ahmed describes how Muslim jurists used the genre of legal theory to argue for individualized, highly creative narratives about the application of Islamic law while demonstrating loyalty to inherited principles and general prohibitions. These narratives are revealed through careful attention to the nuanced way in which legal theorists defined terms and concepts particular to the legal theory genre, and developed pictures of multiple worlds in which Islamic law should ideally function. Ahmed takes the reader into the logic of Islamic legal theory to uncover diverse conceptions of law and legal application in the Islamic tradition, clarifying and making accessible the sometimes obscure legal theories of central figures in the history of Islamic law. The book offers important insights about the ways in which legal philosophy and theology mutually influenced premodern jurists as they formulated their respective visions of law, ethics, and theology. Read more