course will provide a critical overview of the history and practice of
Islamic law. This is a
vast field to which this course is a modest introduction. The two
texts I have selected for the course should serve together as a good
introduction to the main themes of Islamic jurisprudence.
Students need to purchase these two books; the other readings
are available electronically to all registered students.
is an on-line course that does not require the group to be
“present” in the electronic classroom at the same time.
Weekly assignments must be completed by 5pm every Sunday night
(specific dates to be given with detailed reading list at beginning of
class). Once you have
registered for the course, you will receive more instruction about the
technical aspects of participating.
Participation in class—by reading the assigments, by
responding to the instructor’s questions and by engaging in class
“discussion”—is crucial to learning.
student is required to submit one 500 word book report
during the latter half of the semester.
Starting from Week Eight, I have listed a number of books each
week that may be selected for the book report.
I urge you to seek my permission to review the book you have
selected as soon as possible, as only one student will be permitted to
review any one book. Written book reports must be presented to the class on the
weeks they are listed.
student is required to compile his or her own glossary of Islamic
legal terms, important personalities and significant dates.
This glossary must be submitted during the last week of class.
papers must be
submitted within four weeks of completion
of the course. Papers
should be approximately 20 pages (no big margins, large fonts or
triple spacing to fill the paper).
For the structure and style
of the paper, consult the “Hartford Seminary General
Guidelines for a Research Paper.”
topics must be approved in advance by the instructor.
The student is expected to use not only monographs, but a
number of academic articles and/or chapters as sources for the paper.
must inform themselves about the definition of plagarism and the
sanction that will be applied to those who plagarize, including by
copying text from internet sites.
are some possible paper topics:
Focus on the development of Islamic Law in a specific country
during a particular period (eg, Pakistan during the British
occupation, contemporary Malaysia, post-colonial Nigeria or Algeria,
pre-modern Yemen etc.).
Focus on a particular topic in
ritual law and the differences of opinion among schools
regarding that subject (e.g., the ritual slaughter of animals).
Research a topic in the history of Islamic legal education. For example, the role Al-Azhar University in Egypt and what
is its relationship to Egyptian law schools.
Choose a particular area of law, for example, the law of torts,
and make a comparative study between Islamic law and another legal
system (e.g., Common Law).
Focus on a prominent historical or contemporary Islamic legal
scholar, presenting his
or her theories their impact on society.
final grade will be calculated as follows
2) Book Report 15%
4) Final research Paper
D. Min. students need to contact the instructor for their assignments.
Abu Zahra, The Four Imams, translated by Aisha Bewley (London:
Dar al-Taqwa, 2001).
Weiss, The Spirit of Islamic Law, (Athens and London:
The University of Georgia Press, 1998).
is probably most efficient for you to order these books on-line. The Abu Zahra books is carried by www.islamicbookstore.com.
The Weiss book is widely available, including directly from the
publisher at www.ugapress.org.
If you have trouble getting the books, contact Margaret Lezak
at Hartford Seminary Bookstore: firstname.lastname@example.org.