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date: 20 October 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the historical development and social and intellectual functioning of Islamic law in the twelfth through fifteenth centuries. In particular, it considers the progressive stabilization and institutionalization of the four classical Sunni madhhabs (schools of law) and the corresponding developments in Imami Shiʽism; developments in legal theory (usul al-fiqh); and the practical administration of the law. It also discusses the various forms of ijtihad and taqlid that could generate new legal rulings, along with the textual forms and real-world interactions within which legal judgments were sought and expressed. Finally, it looks at the fatwa, which consists of a legal opinion issued in response to an inquiry (istifta’).

Keywords: Islamic law, Sunni, madhhabs, Shiʽism, legal theory, usul al-fiqh, ijtihad, taqlid, legal rulings, fatwa

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