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date: 17 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article offers a survey of modern scholarship on the role of custom in the Islamic legal tradition. It begins with a definition of the concept of custom and also the relationship between the two Arabic terms used for custom, ‘urf and ‘ada. The relationship of custom to other terms such as sunna, ‘amal, and istihsan is also explored. The second, and main, part of the article traces the different approaches to the study of custom in Islamic legal studies and examines the development of these approaches. Four themes or debates are identified as the main contexts within which custom has been discussed: the origins of the Sunna of the Prophet and the early development of Islamic law; relationship between theory and practice; sources of Islamic law; and legal change. The article concludes with a summary and suggestions for future research.

Keywords: ‘ada, custom, Islamic law, ‘urf, sunna, history, method

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