A Critical Introduction to Islamic Legal Theory (online)

(A revised version of this book is now available here from Hackett.)

After years of ruminating on Islamic legal theory (uṣūl al‑fiqh) I have published online a “textbook” with several unusual features:

  • It is free.
  • Readers can add their own comments to specific paragraphs, arguing with me, al‑Juwaynī, and one another.
  • Like many medieval textbooks, it takes the form of a commentary on a short handbook, Imām al‑Ḥaramayn al‑Juwaynī’s famous Kitāb al‑Waraqāt fī uṣūl al‑fiqh.
  • Its approach is more critical, however. It does not just repeat classical explanations and examples, but asks contemporary questions about epistemology, ideology, and ethics.
  • Consequently, it may hold some interest for specialists as well as students.
  • It is based on a new English translation of the Waraqāt, which is itself based on something surprisingly novel: a critical edition of this oft-republished text.
  • Comments posted by readers will help shape a future print edition.

The book is online at http://waraqat.vishanoff.com, and may be cited as:

David R. Vishanoff. A Critical Introduction to Islamic Legal Theory: A Critical Edition, English Translation, and New Commentary on Imām al‑Ḥaramayn al‑Juwaynī’s Leaflet on the Sources of Law (Kitāb al‑Waraqāt fī uṣūl al‑fiqh). Published online March 3, 2017, at http://waraqat.vishanoff.com.

Please share the link with students and even specialists who might find it useful.

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