Comparative Islamic Studies, Vol 11, No 1 (2015)

Al-Risāla (attributed to al-Šāfiʿī) and the Question of Vagueness in Islamic Legal Hermeneutics

Abdessamad Belhaj

Abstract


This article investigates the problem of legal vagueness in Islamic legal hermeneutics. In particular, it examines al-Risāla’s (attributed to al-Šāfiʿī) approach to use language as an argument for the clarity of legal discourse. It argues that ambiguity, although recognized as a legal hermeneutic problem, was not tolerated within Islamic legal discourse. It also makes the case that al-Risāla’s stance develops early reverse pragmatics or pragmatics-for-apologetics in Islamic legal theory.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/cis.20372

References


Abdel Haleem, Muhammad Said. 1991. “Early Islamic Theological and Juristic Terminology: “Kitāb al-Ḥudūd fi ʾl-uṣūl” by Ibn Fūrak.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 54 (1): 5–41. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0041977X00009587


Ali, Mohamed Mohamed Yunis. 2000. Medieval Islamic Pragmatics: Sunni Legal Theorists’ Models of Textual Communication. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon.


Arberry, Arthur John. The Koran Interpreted. http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=26&verse=195


Aristotle. 2007. On Rhetoric. Translated by George A. Kennedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


———. 2010. The Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by William David Ross. New York: CosimoClassics.


Audebert, Claude. 2004. “Iʿǧāz et sacralisation. La Risāla d’al-Šāfiʿī à travers le prisme de l’iʿǧāz .” In al-Kitāb: La sacralité du texte dans le monde de l’Islam, edited by Daniel de Smet et al., 295–319. Brussels: Belgian Society of Oriental Studies.


Bauer, Thomas. 2011. Die Kultur der Ambiguität: Eine andere Geschichte des Islams. Berlin: Verlag der Weltreligionen.


Belhaj, Abdessamad. 2009. Questions théologiques dans la rhétorique arabe. Piliscsaba: Avicenna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies.


Bernand, Marie. 1995. “Bayān selon les uṣūliyyūn.” Arabica 42 (2): 145–160. https://doi.org/10.1163/1570058952583255


Calder, Norman. 1983. “Ikhtilâf and Ijmâ’ in Shâfi’î ‘s Risâla.” Studia Islamica 58 (1): 55–81. https://doi.org/10.2307/1595342


———. 1993. Studies in Early Muslim Jurisprudence. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Endicott, Timothy. 2000. Vagueness in Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Gleave, Robert. 2012. Islam and Literalism : Literal Meaning and Interpretation in Islamic Legal Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Grice, Paul. 1989. “Logic and Conversation.” In Studies in the Way of Words, edited by Paul Grice, 22–40. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Gu, Sharron. 2006. The Boundaries of Meaning and the Formation of Law: Legal Concepts and Reasoning in the English, Arabic, and Chinese Traditions. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press.


Ibn al-Naǧǧār, Taqī al-Dīn. 1993. Šarḥ al-kawkab al-munīr. Edited by M. Muṣṭafā al-Zuḥaylī and Nazīh Ḥammād. Riyad: Maktabat al-ʿUbaykān.


Johnston, David. 2004 “A Turn in the Epistemology and Hermeneutics of Twentieth Century Uṣūl al-Fiqh.” Islamic Law and Society 11 (2): 233–282.


Lowry, Joseph E. 2007. Early Islamic Legal Theory: The Risāla of Muḥammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfiʾī. Leiden : Brill.


Makdisi, George. 1979. “The Significance of the Sunni Schools of Law in Islamic Religious History.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 10 (1): 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020743800053277


Mårtensson, Ulrika. 2009. “Through the Lens of Modern Hermeneutics: Authorial Intention in al-Tabari’s and al-Ghazali’s Interpretations of Q. 24:35.” Journal of Qurʾanic Studies 11 (2): 20–48. https://doi.org/10.3366/jqs.2009.0003


———. 2016. “Al-Ṭabarī’s Concept of the Qurʾan: A Systemic Analysis.” Journal of Qurʾanic Studies 18 (1): 9–57.


Montgomery, James E. 2008. “Speech and Nature: al-Jāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-Bayān wa-al-tabyīn.” Middle Eastern Literatures 11 (2): 169–191. https://doi.org/10.1080/14752620802223764


al-Šāfiʿī, Muḥammad b. Idrīs. 1961. al-Risāla (Islamic jurisprudence). Translated by Majid Khadduri. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.


Various authors. 1993. al-Mawsūʿa al-fiqhiyya. Kuwait: Wizārat al-Awqāf wa-ʾl-Šuʾūn al-Islāmiyya.


Vishanoff, David R. 2011. The Formation of Islamic Hermeneutics : How Sunni Legal Theorists Imagined a Revealed Law. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society.


Zysow, Aron. 2014. The Economy of Certainty : an Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Atlanta, GA: Lockwood Press.


Young, Walter Edward. 2016. The Dialectical Forge: Juridical Disputation and the Evolution of Islamic Law. Cham: Springer International Publishing.







Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com