The paradigmatic public institution associated with the application of Islamic law from the rise of Islam until the end of the nineteenth century has been the qadi. This essay examines the scholarship on this institution, organizing studies into doctrinal works and empirical works. Doctrinal studies of the qadi are based almost entirely on literary sources, most commonly legal texts. Historical sources have also been important, especially for the pre-Ottoman period. Empirical studies of the qadi, by contrast, base themselves almost entirely on surviving court records. Thus, most empirical studies are limited to courts of the Ottoman Empire which kept systematic records of court decisions in contrast to the courts of previous Muslim states, which did not. In the modern period, there has been a distinct rise in an anthropological approach to the qadi, with numerous studies having been published based on direct observation of the behavior of Muslim judges.
This article reviews scholarship on the history of Sunni usul al-fiqh—also known as “Islamic jurisprudence,” “legal theory,” “source law,” “legal methodology,” and “proofs of the law” (usul al-fiqh adillatuhu)—during the premodern period. It first considers the emergence of usul al-fiqh from the second AH/eighth CE to the middle of the fourth/tenth centuries, paying attention to debates about when and how jurists began to produce texts dedicated to the exposition of the genre. It highlights scholarly accounts of the gradual shift from early rudimentary discussions on legal methodology to systematic and detailed elaborations in the so-called mature texts of usul al-fiqh. It also explores the relationship between usul al-fiqh and furu‘ before turning to scholarship on usul al-fiqh sources from the late fourth/tenth up until the tenth/sixteenth century. The article concludes by assessing the relevance of the key intellectual debates over usul al-fiqh to legal practice.
This article presents a history of ideas of constitutional designs and conceptions of constitutionalism. It discusses the problem with typologies, identifying the object, the constitution as law, constitutions as expressions of political ideas, and national and international constitutions.