The Advanced Legal Studies Institute takes the opportunity, through this Website, to announce two series on Islamic law and related issues. The Institute expects this to be a collaborative effort of all those persons who are interested in promoting knowledge about Islamic law. Anyone who feels that he or she has something to contribute may participate in these series. The Institute, however, reserves the right to decide what material will be placed on this site. Further, as far as the electronic form of the material is concerned, these series are not a commercial venture. Publication for sale in other than electronic form will depend on the agreement between the author and the Institute. The two series are as follows:
Islamic Classical Legal Texts
The works of Muslim jurists are a treasure waiting to be discovered. These works are not only the heritage of the Muslims, but of all those who have an interest in Islamic law. Those who do not read Arabic are deprived of its benefits. The Institute is of the view that every person has a right to judge for himself what the correct view is on a particular issue. This is not possible, unless the original texts are made available to every interested reader. The translation of the texts will also provide an opportunity to the reader to match wits with those early jurists, who were the leading thinkers of their times.
Translating these texts is not an easy matter. In fact, it can be quite painful at times. Accordingly, no restriction is placed on the type of text being translated as long as it is a text of some important Muslim jurist. As to who is an important jurist is left to the discretion of the translator. A bibliography of the original sources of Islamic law, available for downloading, may be of some help in selecting the original text. Further, the translation may be of a whole book, or a particular chapter or topic in a book or even an excerpt on an important issue.
The following texts are being mentioned by way of wishful thinking. Some of these texts are so huge that an individual cannot even dream of undertaking their translation all by himself; only a team of translators can accomplish the task.
1. Kitab al-Umm by Imam al-Shafi`i, the founder of the Shafi`i school.
2. Kitab al-Asl by Imam Muhammad al-Shaybani
3. Ziyadat by Imam Muhammad al-Shaybani
4. Al-Mudawwanah al-Kubra by Sahnun based on the verdicts of Ibn al-Qasim as transmitted from Imam Malik.
5. Al-Mabsut by al-Sarakhsi (Hanafi Fiqh)
6. Al-Mughni by Ibn Qudamah (Hanbali Fiqh)
7. Al-Hidayah by al-Marghinani (translated in part by Hamilton, but the Institute feels that a fresh translation is needed).
8. Al-Muhadhdhab by al-Shirazi (Shafi`i Fiqh).
The Institute has made arrangements for the translation of Bada'i` al-Sana`i by al-Kasani. It will be translated in parts. The translations will be placed on this site as soon as they are made available. Among the books on Usul al-Fiqh, one would wish that the following were translated:
1. Al-Mustasfa by Imam al-Ghazali.
2. Kitab al-Usul by al-Sarakhsi.
3. Kitab al-Usul by al-Bazdawi.
4. Al-Mahsul by al-Razi.
5. Al-Tawdih by Sadr al-Shari`ah and several other outstanding works.
Islamic Law Monograph Series
The needs of scholars, researchers and professionals are becoming increasingly specialised. There is an increasing need for monographs that provide information about a single topic. For example a lawyer dealing with a case of sariqah (theft) being tried in the courts, in countries where Islamic law is applied, may not have the time to sift through different books to extract the information he needs. Likewise, a banker who needs information about the contract of salam or istisna` will face a similar obstacle. It is, therefore, imperative that short monographs, not exceeding 100 or 150 printed pages, be published to meet the needs of the professionals, the researchers and those of the general reader. The contents of each monograph should preferably have the following structure with some variation depending on the nature of the topic:
- The meaning and the nature of the contract or act being discussed and its place in the wider scheme of the law or other disciplines.
- The sources in the shari`ah that govern the act or contract.
- The issues pertaining to the subject that were deemed important by the earlier scholars and those that are relevant for modern times.
- The legal reasoning underlying each important issue. This would mean discussing each important issue and highlighting the underlying reasoning.
- The modern applications of the legal concepts discussed above.
- The problems that have arisen or may arise as a result of such modern application. If there is case law on the subject, the discussion should preferably take such case law into account.
- A list of readings/bibliography preferably linked to the issues discussed above.
- Glossary of terms used.
- Index. This index may be included in a cumulative index once the series grows in size.
It is obvious that each topic cannot be discussed within the above framework. For example, the subject of human rights may require a somewhat different format. The format proposed above is flexible enough to accommodate such variation.
AREAS OF RESEARCH
The monographs will deal with the entire gamut of Islamic law. Research will focus on those areas of the law or related disciplines that have relevance for modern times and modern applications. It is estimated that a minimum of about 20 to 25 monographs will be needed to cover all the areas. There is, however, no restriction in terms of numbers and more than one monograph may be published on one topic.
The individual topics and titles are left to the judgment of the writer. The topics will be identified and refined as the project is implemented and potential contributors start thinking about the projects. In the meantime, the following major areas are listed below:
1. International law, human rights and constitutional law. To give an example, one monograph could deal with the source of human rights in Western law as well as in Islamic law.
2. Criminal law, torts and the criminal justice system. The need for books on these topics is greater in countries that are pursuing programs of Islamization of laws, but this is also the area that faces the maximum amount of criticism. The writing of good monographs in this area is, therefore, of crucial significance.
3. Property, commercial transactions and business law. This is a huge area as the issues of Islamic banking also fall under this heading. A good place to start would be to choose some contract that is being utilised by Islamic banks and to see how far the banks are adhering to the shar`i norms.
4. Personal law and domestic relations. The Institute believes that this is a very fertile area as all the issues pertaining to the rights of women and the rights of the child are related to this area. As an example we may mention the changes being made in the laws of Muslim countries in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Muslim scholars should examine these changes and support every good change, but after they have justified these in the light of Islamic law.
5. Legal theory, sources of law and the schools of Islamic law. The purpose here is to channelise the thought of centuries in ways that can convert this discipline into an efficient methodology for serving the needs of the modern interpreter, whoever he may be, but especially the needs of the modern legislator, judge and lawyer.
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