Quraishi-Landes, Asifa

Course Data

Room 5223
R 3:30pm-5:30pm

Pass/Fail: Yes

Course Description

This class provides a basic understanding of the internal workings of Islamic jurisprudence at its theoretical roots and as it has manifested in various historical and contemporary contexts. It engages students with the tools of ijtihad (the mechanism of Islamic legal reasoning) with an eye to the interpretive methodologies of the various schools of Islamic law. It also explores the relationship between Islamic law and government and surveys two selected areas of substantive law: family and criminal law. It concludes with a look at modern Islamic legal and political reform.

In doing so, this course reviews the dominant tools of legal interpretation in Islam, such as those rules surrounding the reading of source texts (Qur’an and Hadith), as well as qiyas (analogical reasoning) and ijma’ (consensus). This is done with attention to the various rationales behind the jurists’ methodologies and the corresponding impact on Islamic law as a whole. Students are expected to use critical thinking skills to compare similarities and differences and offer their own critiques of various approaches. The class concludes with attention to specific doctrinal areas, such as family law and criminal law. Attentive students come away from the class with a working understanding of the various methodologies in classical Islamic jurisprudence, as well as an appreciation of the types of Islamic legal arguments that are employed in Muslim debates around the world today.

Student Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this class will be able to:

1. Recognize the difference between “sharia” and “fiqh” and thus critically analyze how the term “sharia” is used in modern discourses.

2. Describe the methodological differences between the different schools of classical Islamic law.

3. Demonstrate knowledge and use of the different tools of ijtihad.

4. Describe the key doctrines of Islamic marriage and divorce law.

5. Understand and explain the difference between “hudood” crimes, “ta’zir” crimes, and “qisas."

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