This essay explains the slow but certain adaptation of Islamic law to a general audience:
David R. Vishanoff. “Islamic Law: A Long Work in Progress.” The Army Chaplaincy, Winter-Spring 2009, 65-68.
This article was originally accessible on the public websites of the Chief of Chaplains (http://www.chapnet.army.mil) and the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School (USACHCS) (http://www.usachcs.army.mil/TACarchive/TAC/tac.htm), but as of 2017 these web sites no longer exist and The Army Chaplaincy no longer appears to be in publication or available online, so I am making a pdf of the article available here.
My very first publication was an encyclopedia article on the early Muslim theologian Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Sayyar al-Nazzam (782–836), whose thought I encountered in writing my dissertation.
David R. Vishanoff. “Naẓẓām, al‑.” In The Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition, ed. Lindsay Jones, vol. 9, 6444-6446. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005.
The article can be accessed directly in the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
My dissertation was completed in 2004 at Emory University under the guidance of my advisor Richard Martin, Gordon Newby, Devin Stewart, and Vernon Robbins. It has now been superseded by my much more comprehensive book The Formation of Islamic Hermeneutics, but a few scholars may still find value in the more extensive documentation the dissertation provides in some long footnotes.
David R. Vishanoff. “Early Islamic Hermeneutics: Language, Speech, and Meaning in Preclassical Legal Theory.” Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 2004.
Here is a pdf of the dissertation, which I believe still accurately reflects the formatting and layout of the original. A scanned copy of the original, made by University Microfilms International, is available through many libraries or directly from Proquest here.
My M.A. thesis, completed in 1997 at the University of Colorado in Boulder under the guidance of Fred Denny, Ira Chernus, and Robert Lester, advances a peculiar and, no doubt, very naive idea about how the early Muslim community came to be known as “believers:” in accordance with its pre-Islamic usage, the term initially meant “those who give protection” to the Prophet Muhammad, but came to mean “believers” as the community’s self-definition evolved. This is not an idea I would feel qualified either to defend or refute today, but it has found some sympathetic ears among scholars and may still be of interest.
David Reeves Vishanoff. “On the Origin and Development of the Qurʾānic Use of Āmana.” M.A. Thesis, University of Colorado, 1997.
Here is a scanned pdf of the thesis.