Western Views of Islamic Law

Khan L. Ali and M. Ramadan Hisham

in Contemporary Ijtihad

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641284
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653256 | DOI:
Western Views of Islamic Law

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This chapter examines the external scholarship, authored by non-Muslims, about Islam and Islamic law, asking the question of whether such scholarship can be effective in influencing contemporary ijtihad. External scholarship, mostly published in the West, can influence contemporary ijtihad by demonstrating the way to improve some sources of Islamic positive law. It can also be highly influential in specialised markets such as finance where non-Muslim experts can offer advice in forming technical rules. While external scholarship can be influential, it faces opposition and difficulty, particularly when it aims to improve or modify the rules of fiqh derived from divine texts. This opposition to the engagement of external scholarship with the fiqh markets can be attributed to two factors: first, fiqh markets do not allow non-Muslim jurists to interpret the Basic Code for the benefit or to the detriment of Muslim communities; and second, they do not allow criticisms of the Basic Code. In this chapter, the discussion focuses on the principles of scholarly engagement, which are heavily dictated by the fundamental distinction between muminin (believers) and munkirin (non-believers). It also focuses on the disengagement principle, which disregards deviant writings or kurf scholarship on Islam. Defamatory scholarship is discussed, together with cases that exemplify attacks on and disrespect towards the Islamic law and principles. Among these examples are attacks on the Qur'an and defamatory scholarship on the Prophet Muhammad. The chapter also discusses dubious scholarship. This type of scholarship is founded on questionable assumptions about Islam that raise serious and difficult questions, which the fiqh market must answer. An example of such dubious scholarship is the scholarship on Sunnah which concluded that the entire enterprise of the Sunnah was fabricated and fraudulent. Discussed also is the presentation of geopolitical rivalries in external scholarship, which concludes that Islam is inherently violent. The chapter ends with a discussion on some of the popular protests hurtled by Muslims against external attacks on the Basic Code and the Prophet, and on Islam as a whole.

Keywords: external scholarship; non-Muslims; contemporary ijtihad; muminin; munkirin; kurf scholarship; defamatory scholarship; dubious scholarship

Chapter.  13862 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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