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A History of Islamic Law
A History of Islamic Law. Lawyers, according to Edmund Burke, are bad historians. He was referring to an unwillingness, rather than an inaptitude, on the part of early nineteenth-century English lawyers to concern themselves with the past: for contemporary jurisprudence was a pure and isolated science wherein law appeared as a body of rules, based upon objective criteria, whose nature and very existence were independent of considerations of time and place. Despite the influence of the historical school of Western jurisprudence, Burkes observation is generally valid for Middle East studies. Muslim jurisprudence in its traditional form provides an extreme example of a legal science divorced from historical considerations. Law, in classical Islamic theory, is the revealed will of God, a divinely ordained system preceding, and not preceded by, the Muslim state controlling, but not controlled by, Muslim society.