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Practitioner’s Guide to Islamic Law

By: Hamid Khan

Rule of law practitioners around the world often come across Islamic law in their work or where they reside. In over fifty nations, Muslims are the majority religious community and number some 1.6 billion people worldwide, making Islam the world’s second-largest religion and, as a consequence, one of the most widely subscribed legal systems in the world. Despite encountering Islamic legal concepts and precepts, however, many rule of law practitioners remain unfamiliar with both the substance of Islamic law and its practical application. Much of what practitioners know, or think they know, is derived from media accounts that equate discrimination against women, forced marriages, honor killings, and suicide bombings with Islamic law. As a consequence, the term “Islamic law” is often conflated with the Shari’a, which itself has been turned into an ugly word, used to describe an irrational system of barbaric laws laid down in the distant past. An endless array of popular books has further distorted Islamic law beyond recognition. As Israeli scholar Shlomo Avineri has noted, “The underlying assumption has always been that Islam—as a culture and not only a religious creed— was primitive, underdeveloped, retrograde, at best stuck in the memory hole of a medieval splendor out of which it could not disentangle itself.”

This Practitioner’s Guide seeks to correct some of these misconceptions. It provides a primer on Islamic law, explaining its sources, principal doctrines, institutions, and terminology, and discussing how it operates both as a separate legal system and within existing legal systems.

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Uploaded on: Aug 10, 2016
Year Published: 2013
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