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The Dallah Al-Baraka Lectures on Islamic Law and Civilization March 3, 2015

Abstract

Scholarship on the Qur’an as a source of legislation and legal tradition has taken many forms, ranging from the nineteenth-century search for origins to contemporary per­spectives that are substantially influenced by later develop­ments in the history of Islamic law. This lecture takes a step back and endeavors to examine the Qur’an in its original context as a law book. I begin by identifying three features of the Qur’an that ought to complicate the reading of Qur’anic legislation: its literary form; its recurring ideas about law that, cumulatively, and perhaps surprisingly, exhibit ambiv­alence toward the imposition of legal obligations; and its variation in legal form and vocabulary across different suras (or chapters). I then draw on those features to reevaluate particular legislative provisions of the Qur’an and identify different modes of Qur’anic law-making.

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2015

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