REL 322

An Introduction to Islamic Law

This course examines the origins, development, and implementation of Islamic law (Sharia) within Muslim societies of the past and present. Beginning with the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad, students discuss the emergence of an early Islamic legal tradition, its elaboration within the various schools of law, and its dramatic expansion during the medieval period. The second part of the course analyzes Islamic law according to its institutional structures and theoretical components, while also questioning the relationship between law and ethics, theory and implementation. In the third and final part of the course, students explore the trajectory of Islamic law and legal thinking from the beginning of European colonization of the Muslim world until the contemporary period. Where appropriate, students examine modern case studies from the Muslim world to identify the institutional components of the medieval tradition that have proven either durable or contentious. All readings are in English.