Early steps on the path to codifying Islamic law

Shahanaz Begum, Masters Candidate, SOAS, University of London

Paper presented by Shahanaz Begum on Tuesday 27th November 2018 at CMCS Oxford.


Law plays a pivotal role in the life of a Muslim. But how do Muslims come to understand Islamic law, shape it and articulate it? Much of this falls within the realm of usul al-fiqh, or Islamic legal theory, and will be the focus of this talk.

Legal theory has been a point of discussion amongst Muslim scholars from the outset of Islamic scholarship. Looking at the early beginnings of this discipline, prior to the 10th century, this talk aims to explore how early Muslim jurists such as Muhammad b. Idrīs al-Shāfi’ī (d.820) and others, helped to develop an Islamic legal theory that still resonates for Muslims today. However, the role, remit and value of usul al-fiqh, as well as its very definition, are still debated and so questions concerning these discussions will also be opened up.