by O Arabi · 1999 · Cited by 7 — 193) appointed Abu Yusuf, the leading Hanafi doctor of the period;8 al-Shaybani, Abu Hanifa’s other prominent com- panion, then succeeded

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AuthorÕs Note I owe special thanks to the Faculty and Staff of the G.E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies at the Univer- sity of California, Los Angeles, where the research for this pa- per was conducted in the spring and summer of 1995. In particular, my thanks go to the CenterÕs Director, Professor Irene Bierman, Assistant Director Jonathan Friedlander, Research Associate Dr. Samy S. Swayd, Professor Michael Morony, and Senior Editor Diane James. All dates in the text unspecified as to calendar are Hijri dates.

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5Introduction There is an essential relation between identity and reli- gion in human societies. Among the pre-Islamic Arabs, this connection found expression in the identification estab- lished between the Arab tribes, their mythical progenitors and their respective gods. Each tribe had its own privileged god(s), and the great grandfather of the tribe Ñ a half-human, half- divine figure Ñ was conceived as responsible for the introduc- tion of the worship of that specific god. These aspects of group identity point to a tripartite structure comprising kinship, re- ligion and identity in intricate combination. It would be a fascinating course of inquiry to trace the incidence of mono- theism in the complex identity structure of pre-Islamic Arab communities. In this paper I examine the repercussions of monotheistic Islam on a specific cultural product, viz., legal discourse, investigating the issue of the unitary identity of Is- lamic law as this identity transpires in both the legal philoso- phy and the practice of Islamic law during its formative period in the second century of Islam. To better understand the philosophy animating the early Muslim jurists, it is natural to inquire into the determinate circumstances and conceptions that presided over its forma-

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6tion in the second Islamic century. In particular: What is the relationship between the juristsÕ religious understanding of law and the concrete methods they followed in their practice? Was there a single paradigm or systematic conception of legal method which guided the juristsÕ activity, or rather a multi- plicity of such methods? Such a question acquires a particular significance in the context of the last and most monotheistic of the three Middle Eastern faiths. A cursory examination of the writings of Muslim legists of the formative period would reveal that the idea of the uniqueness of the law was intimately connected to the fundamental tenet of Islamic faith: the One- ness of Allah ( al-tawhid ). If Òthere is but one Lawgiver, Allah al-ahad ,Ó it follows that there is no law but GodÕs law, the essential duty of the fuqahaÕ residing in the disclosure of the unique, unchanging and self-identical Divine jus . Yet this uni- tary, monotheistic spirit of fiqh contrasts with another more pluralistic understanding of Islamic law which derives from actual practice and from reflection on that practice by leading legal theoreticians, so that a more accurate judgment of the issue of uniformity and difference in Muslim jurisprudence should take into account both dimensions, the unitary-theo- logical and the pluralistic-practical. In the following pages I attempt to integrate both dimen- sions within a dialectical view of the relationship between sub- stantive law and religion in Islamic culture. I underline the

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9Chapter 1 Legal Pluralism in Early Islam I donÕt say that humanity doesnÕt progress. I say that it is a bad method to pose the problem as: ÒHow is it that we have progressed?Ó The problem is: How do things happen? And what happens now is not necessarily better or more advanced, or better understood, than what happened in the past. Michel Foucault 1The theme of this chapter is the pluralistic dimension of Islamic law. While pluralism will appear in the following pages to be a salient feature of Islamic jurisprudence in its for- mative period, legal pluralism is not an exclusive property of fiqh , setting it apart from other legal systems. Law touches a very deep level of human existence: the crucial protection of life and property, the organization of sexuality and marriage, inheritance rights and financial transactions. The possibility of more than one system regulating these fundamental relations is demonstrated by the multiplicity of legal structures on the present-day world scene. Within a single juridical system, plu- ralism manifests itself in the bringing to bear of more than one legal principle on the resolution of a particular problem, a cir- cumstance that permits divergent rulings on the same problem. 2

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10 Considering that conflict and litigation are part and parcel of the intricate texture of social life, it is only natural that the resolution of conflict by adjudication should involve differ- ences of appreciation in many cases and result in different rul- ings. Given the complexity of considerations that determine the domain of law, a measure of flexibility allowing for some disagreement in evaluation and judgment among jurists would seem to be a healthy feature of any legal system. Islamic law and jurisprudence exemplify this feature on a grand scale. In its most comprehensive meaning, Islamic jurispru- dence, fiqh , signifies two domains of Islamic law: legal meth- odology, or the science of the foundations of law, Ô ilm usul al-fiqh ; and the substantive rulings or branches, furu Ô, that constitute the legal content. By the end of the third Islamic century, Muslim jurists had before them an impressive written corpus of substantive law, created by the great Muslim legal minds of the second century and cast in its definitive form by their illustrious disciples. The major legal treatises of the Hanafis, the Malikis and the ShafiÔis, and the Hadith collec- tions of Ibn Hanbal, Muslim and al-Bukhari were in circula- tion, preparing the ground for the generations of classical legists of succeeding centuries. Two aspects of this development of Islamic jurisprudence merit special attention: its prodigious pace and its striking pluralism. If the death of Abu Hanifa in 150 A.H. marks the completion of the first phase of systematic

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11 legal thought in Islam, the intervening ninety years that con- clude with the death of Ibn Hanbal in 241 A.H. witness the rise of the voluminous constituted corpuses of the four ortho- dox Sunni schools, or madhahib (sing. madhhab ). Rules of worship (Ô ibadat ); marriage and divorce ( nikah, talaq ); inherit- ance ( faraÕid ); contracts and commercial transactions (Ô uqud, muÔamalat ); and criminal law ( Ôuqubat ) appear full-fledged in their final form, as if by design, at the close of this decisive third century. In both tempo and completeness, the rise of Islamic law constitutes a unique event in the cultural history of Islam, for in no other period Ñ apart from that of the mod- ernist legislation of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Ñ was the will as determined, the effort as concentrated and the purpose as clear on the part of those whose names are securely preserved in the folds of the primary corpus juris. Their achievement is compounded when it is further realized that detailed substantive law surfaces not just in one version but in a multiplicity of variants, each coupled with indications of the methods employed in its derivation. One of the major sources of legal pluralism in Islam lies within the contrast between ShariÔa as GodÕs ideal Law and Fiqh as human endeavor to discover that Law. An essential tension exists at the heart of Islamic law, between its Divine and, consequently, absolutely objective character on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the large measure of autonomy

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12 accorded to the individual jurist in the elaboration of its pre- cepts. The sacred Law, shariÔa , sharÔ , is the sum total of Divine instructions to individual Muslims whereby the properly legal domain Ñ family, contract, and penal law Ñ is subsumed un- der the notion of religious duty. Worship regulations such as prayer, fasting and pilgrimage are therefore prominent in ShariÔa, and worship should indeed be viewed as the source and purpose of Law. The conviction that GodÕs single, unique Law is an objectively existing structure detailing the model behavior of the believer belongs to the deepest level of Muslim consciousness. It constitutes the driving force behind the prac- tice of fiqh (literally, Òthorough understandingÓ), and Islamic jurisprudence is the science and study of ShariÔa. As a lure for religious feeling, the belief in the objectivity and accessibility of the Law impels, incites and justifies Muslim jurists ( fuqaha Õ) in their quest for knowledge (Ô ilm ). The fact that legal knowledge, derivation and elaboration Ñ in short, the making of the law Ñ was conceived and prac- ticed under the guise of religious duty gave fiqh a strong subjec- tive tinge. It is the personal responsibility of the jurist toward God, the Prophet and the Muslim Community ( al-umma ) to see to it that his juridical pronouncements approximate GodÕs and the ProphetÕs dicta as much as possible; as he is to personally assume this responsibility before God, he also assumes it per- sonally before men. Islamic law was the product of individual

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