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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Whereas political and cultural histories of the Mughal Sultanate (1526–1858) abound, the study of Islamic law under the state’s auspices is less clearly drawn. This article considers the reasons behind the dearth by outlining the process by which major archival collections came into being and critically evaluating the secondary works produced over the last century and half. It argues that two factors are primarily responsible: 1) the qualitative and quantitative paucity of extant documentation as a consequence of no Mughal state archives and the fact that contemporary collections originated with British colonialism; 2) the approach too often taken by historians of South Asia. Early secondary works make little to no distinction between treatises reflexive of legal theory and practice, while many late works compensate by considering theory entirely divorced from Mughal practice. For the study of Islamic law under the Mughals to progress, practical and theoretical obstacles must be overcome.

Keywords: Mughal, Islamic law, India, South Asia, colonialism, Orientalism, fiqh, fatawa

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