Islamic Law and Ethics

This volume assembles many of the papers delivered at the 2014 Summer Institute for Scholars on “Sharia and Ethics” hosted by the International Institute for Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia. Many thanks to Ermin Sinanović for organizing the institute and initiating the volume, to Abdulaziz Sachedina for guiding the selection of papers, and to Shiraz Khan for seeing it through to publication.

David R. Vishanoff, ed. Islamic Law and Ethics. London: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2020.

The book is Open Access and available in multiple formats including a free PDF at A paperback version will be available soon.


Does Islamic law define Islamic ethics? Or is the law a branch of a broader ethical system? Or is it but one of several independent moral discourses, Islamic and otherwise, competing for Muslims’ allegiance? The essays in this book present a range of answers: some take fiqh as the defining framework for ethics, others insert the law into a broader ethical system, and others present it as just one among several parallel Islamic ethical discourses, or show how Islamic ethics might coexist with non-Muslim normative systems. Their answers have far-reaching implications for epistemology, for the authority of jurists and lay Muslims, for the practical moral challenges of daily life, and for relationships with non-Muslims. The book presents Muslim ethicists with a strategic contemporary choice: should they pursue a single overarching methodology for judging all ethical questions, or should they relish the rhetorical and political competition of alternative but not necessarily incompatible moral discourses?

  1. The Ethical Structure of Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni’s Legal Theory, by David R. Vishanoff
  2. “Neither Desiring It, nor Transgressing Its Limits:” Ethical Hierarchy in Islamic Law, by Samy Ayoub
  3. Structural Ijtihad: A Radical Paradigm Shift in Twelver Shi`i Legal Theory, by Hamid Mavani
  4. The Application of Maqasid al-Shari`ah in Islamic Chaplaincy, by Kamal Abu-Shamsieh
  5. The Developmentalist Ethic in Islamic Charity: Fiqh al-Zakah and the Applied Ethics of Muslim Charity Organizations in India, by Christopher B. Taylor
  6. The Concept of Rida in the Qur’an: Popular Misunderstanding and the Westernization of Jews and Christians, by Asaad Alsaleh
  7. Social Justice and Islamic Legal/Ethical Order: The Madinah Constitution as a Case Study from the Prophetic Period, by Katrin Jomaa

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