REL 322

Islamic Law (Shariah)

The primary framework questions that drive this course are: 1) What is Islamic law (Sharia); and 2) Who defines it? To answer these questions, this course examines the origins, development, and implementation of Islamic law within Muslim societies of the past and present. Beginning with the Qur¿ an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad, this course discusses the emergence of an early Islamic legal tradition, its coalescing into various schools of law, and its dramatic expansion during the medieval period. Additionally, it analyzes Islamic law according to its institutional structures and theoretical components, while also questioning the relationship between law and ethics, theory and implementation. Finally, the course explores 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 of contentious. As the course is designed to fulfill the requirements of the Humanistic Approaches core curriculum, whenever possible it relates back to broader, more familiar themes in the study of law as a human institution.