The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      Atlanta, Georgia: Lockwood Press, 2014.
    • Publication Date:
      2014
    • Original Material:
      360 p.
    • Abstract:
      Aron Zysow's 1984 Ph.D. dissertation, "The Economy of Certainty," remains the most important, compelling, and intellectually ambitious treatment of Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh) in Western scholarship to date. It continues to be widely read and cited, and remains unsurpassed in its incisive analysis of the most fundamental assumptions of Islamic legal thought. Zysow argues that the great dividing line in Islamic legal thought is between those legal theories that require certainty in every detail of the law and those that will admit probability. The latter were historically dominant and include the leading legal schools that have survived to our own day. Zahirism and, for much of its history, Twelver Shi'ism, are examples of the former. The well-known dispute regarding the legitimacy of juridical analogy is only one feature of this fundamental epistemological division, since probability can enter the law in the process of authenticating prophetic traditions and in the interpretation of the revealed texts, as well as through analogy. The notion of consensus in Islamic legal theory functioned to reintroduce some measure of certainty into the law by identifying one of the competing probable solutions as correct. Consequently consensus has only a reduced role, if any, in those systems that reject probability. Another, more radical, means of regaining certainty was the doctrine that regarded the legal reasoning of all qualified jurists on matters of probability as infallible. The development of legal theories of both types, that of Zahirism no less than that of Hanafism, was to a large extent shaped by theology and, most significantly, by Mu'tazilism, and subsequently by Ash'arism and Maturidism. Zysow's important work is published here in full, for the first time, with updated references and some further reflections by the author.
    • Contents Note:
      Front Matterp.iTable of Contentsp.vSeries Editors’ PrefaceLowry, Joseph E.Stewart, Devin J.Toorawa, Shawkat M.p.ixForewordp.xiThe continued importance of “The Economy of Certainty” to the study of Islamic legal theory is a tribute to the precision employed at its inception; the work’s persistent relevance to the research into uṣūl al-fiqh makes its publication here more than welcome: it is, to use the language of uṣūl , imperative. Originally presented as a doctoral dissertation at Harvard University, “The Economy of Certainty” has retained its position as “essential reading” on many university curricula since its submission in 1984. In many disciplines, thirty-year old research borders on being antique; however, when read today, Zysow’s presentation retains both its originalityAuthor’s Prefacep.xxiAcknowledgmentsp.xxvAbbreviationsp.xxviiINTRODUCTIONp.1At the heart of Islamic law, as of all legal orders, there lies the question of legitimacy. From where do the rules that purport to bind Muslims come? What is the source of their validity? Who is entitled to make authoritative pronouncements as to the content of the law? What are the standards for resolving disagreement as to the law? From a very early period, for reasons upon which we are free to speculate, Muslims came to treat the question of legitimacy along explicitly epistemological lines. Certainty and probability were the fundamental categories with which they approached every question of1 - THE AUTHENTICATION OF PROPHETIC TRADITIONSp.7The Muslim jurist has the task of interpreting the divinely revealed legal texts and of extending their application by analogy. It is clear, however, that before he can undertake these tasks the jurist must have access to the legal information furnished by revelation.¹ The veracity of the miracle-wielding prophet, at least in his function of laying down the law, is demonstrated by the theologian and is assumed by the legal theorist. Generally speaking, no distinction is made between the validity of the Qurʾān and prophetic utterances that are non-Qurʾānic.² The division between the two is drawn from the point of2 - INTERPRETATIONp.49Generally speaking, the uṣūlīs were interested in putting forth a system of interpretation acceptable to a rational man, one consonant with the workings of language as known from common experience. In some instances there is found a distinct interest to discover the interpretative principles that had guided the earlier jurists, and where explicit statements were lacking, as was often the case, these principles had to be induced from the legal cases. The fidelity with which these principles were adhered to depended upon the individual uṣūlīs and the tradition within which he worked. What was not done, however, was to defend3 - Consensusp.113With consensus, we come to that doctrine of uṣūl al-fiqh that has unquestionably attracted the most attention from modern scholarship. Snouck Hurgronje was perhaps the first to insist upon the centrality of this doctrine. “The ijmāʿ has in practice,” he wrote, “become an adequate basis for the whole law which makes all other bases superfluous.”¹ The primacy of ijmāʿ is now a commonplace of writing about Islam.² Two citations show how pervasive this view is, even in the work of the most eminent authorities. Hamilton Gibb writes: Indeed on a strict logical analysis, it is obvious that ijmāʿ underlies the4 - ANALOGYp.159If fiqh is, as so commonly claimed, the predominant “science” of medieval Islam, then uṣūl al-fiqh is the Islamic counterpart of the philosophy of science, and the problem of juristic analogy, qiyās , is the equivalent of the problem of induction. The identification of qiyās with induction is not novel. Ibn Ḥazm already observed that “what the ancients call induction ( istiqrāʾ ) the people of our faith call qiyās .”¹ He and other astute students of Islamic intellectual life were able to penetrate to the crux of the issue. They saw that in the dominant kind of analogy practiced by the jurists, the5 - IJTIHĀDp.259It is reported that the great Ḥanafī jurist ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn al-Kāsānī (d. 578/1182), the son-in-law of al-Samarqandī, once conducted a disputation with another Ḥanafī jurist in Anatolia. The topic was Abū Ḥanīfa’s doctrine of ijtihād. Al-Kāsānī’s opponent persistently maintained that for Abū Ḥanīfa, every mujtahid was correct. Losing his patience, al-Kāsānī finally raised his whip to strike the other jurist. The Anatolian ruler who witnessed this surprising spectacle readily agreed to send off the fiery al-Kāsānī as an emissary to Aleppo.¹ Writing of this very doctrine, that every mujtahid is correct, al-Bāqillānī said that, “Had al-Shāfiʿī not espoused it, IEPILOGUEp.279In the preceding chapters of this study we have become acquainted with some typical systems of Islamic legal theory. For us, formalism in its most consistent version has been represented by Ḥanafism. For other slightly different varieties of formalism, we have looked to the teaching of the other leading Sunni schools. Given the historical dominance of these Sunni schools, we may properly speak of their legal theory as “normal.” By way of contrast, Ẓāhirism has been presented as the type of the materialist legal system. For the normal legal system, the bulk of the prophetic traditions, though not necessarily theBIBLIOGRAPHYp.295WORKS CITED IN THE ADDENDA AND PREFACEp.308TABLE OF PAGE CORRESPONDENCESp.313INDEX OF QURʾĀN CITATIONSp.317INDEX OF ARABIC TERMS AND PROPER NOUNSp.319Back Matterp.332
    • Accession Number:
      j.ctt1ws7wzt
    • ISBN:
      978-1-937040-09-3
      978-1-937040-27-7
      1-937040-09-7
      1-937040-27-5
    • Online Access: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvvnd01
    • Rights:
      Lockwood Press
    • Accession Number:
      edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      ZYZOW, A. The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Atlanta, Georgia: Lockwood Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-937040-09-3. Disponível em: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsjbk&AN=edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01&custid=s3443875. Acesso em: 21 out. 2020.
    • AMA:
      Zyzow A. The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Lockwood Press; 2014. Accessed October 21, 2020. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsjbk&AN=edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01&custid=s3443875
    • APA:
      Zyzow, A. (2014). The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Lockwood Press.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Zyzow, Aron. 2014. The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Atlanta, Georgia: Lockwood Press. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsjbk&AN=edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01&custid=s3443875.
    • Harvard:
      Zyzow, A. (2014) The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Atlanta, Georgia: Lockwood Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsjbk&AN=edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01&custid=s3443875 (Accessed: 21 October 2020).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Zyzow, A 2014, The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory, Lockwood Press, Atlanta, Georgia, viewed 21 October 2020, .
    • MLA:
      Zyzow, Aron. The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Lockwood Press, 2014. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsjbk&AN=edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01&custid=s3443875.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Zyzow, Aron. The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory. Atlanta, Georgia: Lockwood Press, 2014. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsjbk&AN=edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01&custid=s3443875.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Zyzow A. The Economy of Certainty : An Introduction to the Typology of Islamic Legal Theory [Internet]. Atlanta, Georgia: Lockwood Press; 2014 [cited 2020 Oct 21]. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsjbk&AN=edsjbk.j.ctvvnd01&custid=s3443875