Thursday, March 5, 2020

Siddiqui on Abbasid Law and Politics

Sohaira Z. M. Siddiqui (Georgetown University, Qatar) published Law and Politics under the Abbasids: An Intellectual Portrait of al-Juwayni in 2019 with Cambridge University Press. From the publisher: 
Law and Politics under the AbbasidsAbu Ma'ali al-Juwayni (d.478/1085) lived in a politically tumultuous period. The rise of powerful dynastic families forced the Abbasid Caliph into a position of titular power, and created instability. He also witnessed intellectual upheavals living amidst great theological and legal diversity. Collectively, these experiences led him to consider questions of religious certainty and social and political continuity. He noted that if political elites are constantly changing, paralleled with shifting intellectual allegiances, what ensures the continuity of religion? He concluded that continuity of society is contingent upon knowledge and practice of the Shari'a. Here, Sohaira Siddiqui explores how scholars grappled with questions of human reason and knowledge, and how their answers to these questions often led them to challenge dominant ideas of what the Shari'a is. By doing this, she highlights the interconnections between al-Juwayni's discussions on theology, law and politics, and the socio-political intellectual landscapes that forged them.
 Table of Contents after the jump:


Part I. Historical Background:
1. Politics, patronage, and scholarship in Nishapur
2. Al-Juwaynī: life of a scholar

Part II. Epistemology:
3. Intellectual fissures: the Ashʿarīs and the Muʿtazila
4. The epistemology of al-Juwaynī

Part III. Legal Theory:
5. Certainty in legal sources: Hòadīth
6. Certainty in legal sources: Ijmāʿ
7. The rise of legal uncertainty: Qiyās al-Maʿnā
8. Coping with legal uncertainty: Qiyās al-Shabah

Part IV. Political Thought:
9. The search for continuity: al-Juwaynī's political thought
10. Continuity, custom, and applied epistemology in al-Juwaynī's political thought


You can listen to Sohaira Siddiqui's New Books Network podcast interview here

Further information about the book is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi