NEAREAST 423 - Islamic Law/Shariah
Section: 001
Term: WN 2018
Subject: Near East Studies (NEAREAST)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Many violent ideologues today, from Islamophobes to ISIS, depict Islamic law in cruel simplistic ways for a wide variety of purposes. Those simplistic depictions then become blunt instruments to promote violence on non-Muslims and Muslims alike. We can observe this violence in the name of Islam with the Taliban, Daesh (ISIS), Boko Haram, and al-Shabaab, and against the name of Islam with hate groups in India, Myanmar, Europe and the U.S. who target Muslim civilians. At the core is some image of Islamic law and the perceived hope or threat it poses. So, what is Islamic Law — or in Arabic — Shariah? — “Shariah” entails a broad category of rules for believers to live their lives fully, so it’s akin to the Judaic concept of ‘HaLakhah (The Law)” and Christ's “the Way, the Truth, the Life.” As such, it includes not only statutes that the state and its courts to enforce, but what society might regulate through norms, and those matters that are left up to personal conscience. This course will explore how the three levels of regulation (courts, norms, and conscience) operate not only in the enforcement of the rules (ahkam), but in the interpretive process (ijtihad) of rule-making. In studying the rule-making process, we will investigate the ideals of law (maqasid al-shariah), which surprisingly are not centered on God but humans: promoting life, family, wealth, mind, religion, (and human dignity). This uncharted terrain will enable us to discuss (1) philosophies on the nature of law in general, particularly, how does law derives its legitimacy over human lives? (2) how did Islamic ideas and practices circulate in Europe? (3) how and why are some laws enforced and many others left unenforced? (4) how did scholars ensure that Islamic law remains open to interpretation?

No knowledge of Arabic is needed (though it might help). All readings and discussions are in English.

Intended Audience:


Class Format:


NEAREAST 423 - Islamic Law/Shariah
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
Tu 4:00PM - 7:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780874809381
The search for God's law : Islamic jurisprudence in the writings of Sayf al-D?n al-?mid?, Author: Bernard G. Weiss., Publisher: University Of Utah Press Rev. ed. 2010
ISBN: 9780061189036
The great theft : wrestling Islam from the extremists, Author: Khaled Abou El Fadl., Publisher: HarperOne 1st Harper 2007
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