Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Stewart on Fatimid Islamic law

We missed this one back in 2015, but the paperback of Al-Qadi al-Numan’s Disagreement of the Jurists: A Manual of Islamic Legal Theory, translated by Devin J. Stewart, Emory University, came out in 2017 with NYU Press. It includes a foreword by John Coughlin and John Sexton. From the publisher:
A masterful overview of Islamic law and its diversity  Al-Qadi al-Nu'man was the chief legal theorist and ideologue of the North African Fatimid dynasty in the tenth century. This translation makes available for the first time in English his major work on Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh), which presents a legal model in support of the Fatimid claim to legitimate rule. 
Composed as part of a grand project to establish the theoretical bases of the official Fatimid legal school, Disagreements of the Jurists expounds a distinctly Shi'i system of hermeneutics. The work begins with a discussion of the historical causes of jurisprudential divergence in the first Islamic centuries and goes on to engage, point by point, with the specific interpretive methods of Sunni legal theory. The text thus preserves important passages from several Islamic legal theoretical works no longer extant, and in the process throws light on a critical stage in the development of Islamic legal theory that would otherwise be lost to history.
Praise for the book:
“This book will be useful especially to those who are interested in the history of law and…the history of the Fatimids.” -Speculum
"[Disagreements of the Jurists] is very important for students of jurisprudence and for reconstructing fiqh's development.” -American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences
"Stewart has rendered al-Nu'man’s work into intelligible and elegant English, in keeping with the goals of the Library of Arabic Literature series to open up certain valuable and influential works in the Arabic tradition to a wider reading public." -Journal of the American Oriental Society
Further details about the book are available here