Search for God's Law: Islamic Jurisprudence in the Writings of Sayf Al Din al Amidi

Search for God's Law: Islamic Jurisprudence in the Writings of Sayf Al Din al Amidi

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In Islam, God is the sole, ultimate lawgiver. Given the absence of a living prophet, all law worthy of the name must therefore be derived from texts that contain divine revelation or possess authority grounded in that revelation. Classical Muslim jurisprudents regarded the effort to discover divine law through these texts exceedingly demanding, since it required one to grapple with an enormous array of difficult text-critical and hermeneutic issues. Although the Qur'an itself was considered above challenge, other texts had to be subjected to rigorous tests of authenticity, while the meaning of the texts, Qur'anic and non-Qur'anic, became a topic of intense debate. Without an ecclesiastic institution vested with authority to proclaim "correct" interpretations, the development of law through interpretation became a largely individualistic enterprise, though imbued with a keen sense of communal responsibility.

The Search for God's Law provides a comprehensive overview of Islamic theoretical jurisprudence as expounded in the writings of one of its greatest figures, Sayf al-Din al-Amidi (d. 1233). Amidi's influential Kitab al-ihkam fi usul al-ahkam represents a high point of Sunni legal thought, culminating a long period of development and incorporating the thinking of rival scholars and earlier masters.

Using Amidi's work, Bernard Weiss explicates and discusses the various issues that define Islamic jurisprudence as an integrated system during the time of this important mainstream scholar. The Search for God's Law presents a lucid exposition of the relationship between sacred text and mundane law. It is the most comprehensive treatment of Islamic jurisprudence yet to appear in a Western language.


University of Utah Press, Hardcover, 745pages, 1992.