Academic Programs 

Introduction to Islamic Law    (IS-640-4)  
Winter/Spring 2003

This course is an introduction to the history and practice of Islamic law. During the first part of this course, the sources of Islamic law, the formation of Islamic jurisprudence, and the history of Islamic law in society will be examined.  In the second part of the course, contemporary issues and developments in Islamic law will be explored.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., starting February 4

Location: Room 206 

Professor Ingrid Mattson

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9531

Course Syllabus
Class web site

This course will provide a critical overview of the history and practice of Islamic law and is divided into three parts.  In Part One, we will examine the history and development of Islamic legal theory, using Wael Hallaq’s study, A History of Islamic Legal Theories.  In Part Two, we will examine Islamic law in practice, using Lawrence Rosen’s, The Justice of Islam.   Finally, we will discuss the current diversity of legal systems historically or ideologically affiliated with the classical Islamic legal system.  Muslim minorities in North America, and their attempts to invoke Islamic law in their lives will receive particular focus.  Throughout the course, attention will be paid to the relationship between political and religious authority in the theory and practice of Islamic law. 

The requirements for the course are:  1) A midterm exam will be given to test students in basic concepts and terms in Islamic law  2) One book and one article report of one-two pages must be handed in to the professor and presented orally to the class.  The book and article must be chosen from the readings for April 22 and 29.  3)  A research paper.  You will present this paper in draft form to the class at the end of the semester.

The final grade will be calculated as follows

1)  Midterm Exam                                  30%
2)  Book Reports                                    20%
3)  Draft/Presentation of Research Paper  10%
4)  Final research Paper                          40%

Required Texts: 

Wael Hallaq, A History of Islamic Legal Theories:  an introduction to Sunni usul al-fiqh, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Lawrence Rosen, The Justice of Islam:  comparative perspectives on Islamic law and society, Oxford University Press, 2000.


Feb. 4:  Hallaq, Chapter One.
Feb. 11: Hallaq, Chapter Two.
Feb. 18:  Hallaq, Chapter Three.
Feb. 25: Hallaq, Chapter Four.
March 4:  Hallaq, Chapter Five.
March 11: Hallaq, Chapter Six and Conclusion.
March 18: **Midterm Exam 
March 25:
Rosen, Part One
**Choose paper topics

**Select book and article to review for end of semester.

April 1
: Rosen, Part Two
April 8:
  Rosen, Part Three
April 15
:  Spring Break
April 22
:  Current Debates I:  (see readings on next page)
**Book Report I

April 29
: Current Debates II:  (see readings on next page)
**Book Report II

May 6
:  Presentations
**May 27
  Latest date to hand in papers

Political Participation/Political Oppression

Abou El Fadl, Khaled.  “Islam and the Theology of Power,” Middle East Report 221, Winter 2001.

Al Alwani, Taha Jabir.  Fatwa on “The Participation of Muslims in the American Political Process.” (from; 2000).

Halawi, Jailan.  “A forbidden alliance?” Al-Ahram Weekly Online, Sept. 20-26, 2001, Issue no. 552.

Saad, Rasha.  “Weapons of the Weak.” [Qaradawi on suicide bombing.]  Al-Ahram Weekly Online, Dec. 13-19, 2001; Issue No. 564.


Fadel, Mohammad.  “Reinterpreting the Guardian’s Role in the Islamic Contract of Marriage:  the Case of the Maliki School,”  Journal of Islamic Law 3/1 (1998): 1-26.

Qaradawi, Yusuf and the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fatawa:  Fatwas on the Hajj of a Woman without a Mahrem (from the internet).

Quick, Abdul Hakim.  Al-Mu’allaqa:  The Muslim Woman Between Divorce and Real Marriage,”  Journal of Islamic Law v. 3 (Spring/Summer 1998):  27-40.

Quraishi, Asifa.  “Her Honor:  An Islamic Critique of the Rape Laws of Pakistan from a woman-sensitive perspective,” Michigan Jounal of International Law  v. 18 (Winter 1997): 287-320. [Followed by UPI story on Pakistani court ruling on rape in 2002].

Shehadeh, Lamia Rustum.  “The Legal Status of Married Women in Lebanon,”  International Journal of Middle East Studies 30/4 (1998):  501-519.


Competing World Views?

Laylish, Aharon.  “The Contribution  of the Modernists to the Secularization of Islamic Law,”  Middle Eastern Studies, 14 (1978):  263-277.

Fahmy, Khaled.  “The Anatomy of Justice:  Forensic Medicine and Criminal Law in Nineteenth-Century Egypt,” Islamic Law and Society, 6/2 (June, 1999): 224-271.

Shaham, Ron.  “Custom, Islamic Law, and Statutory Legislation:  Marriage Registration and Minimum Age at Marriage in the Egyptian Shari`a Court,”  Islamic Law and Society, 2,3 (1995):  258-281.


Guidelines for Drafts, Papers, and Presentations


I require a draft of your paper because it can prevent some nasty surprises for both of us.  The draft must include a complete bibliography of the sources you are using, an outline of the structure of the paper and at least ten pages of written text—although it is better to have a draft of the complete paper.  You may hand in the draft anytime before the date given on the Course Schedule.


Approximately 20 pages (no big margins, large fonts or triple spacing to fill the paper).  For the structure, style and content of the paper, consult the “Hartford Seminary General Guidelines for a Research Paper.”


The purpose of the presentation is twofold:  first, to share your research for the benefit of the other students and second, to give you feedback on your paper before you finalize it and hand in to the professor.  The presentation should be focused and organized, as there will not be too much time available to each presenter.  There is no need to be overly formal or elaborate in your presentation. 

Some Suggestions for Paper Topics:

1.      Focus on Islamic Law in a specific country (eg, Pakistan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Algeria, Yemen etc.).

2.   Focus on a particular topic in  ritual law and the differences of opinion among schools regarding that topic (e.g., the ritual slaughter of animals).

3.       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.

4.       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).

5.       Focus on a prominent modern or contemporary Islamic legal scholar (e.g. an-Naim, al-Qaradawi, Al Alwani, Tantawi, Bin Baz etc):  present their theories and assess their impact on society.


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