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The Evolution of Islamic Law and Ijtihad

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to show how the myth of the immutability of Islamic law can be dismantled. It is argued that Islamic law consists of various schools and sources, both divine and human, and that foreign/un-Islamic elements have influenced the evolution of Islamic law over the centuries. The followers of Islam are divided into two groups: Sunnis and Shias, and so are their laws. There are four major sources of Islamic law: the Koran, the Sunnah(the model behavior of the Prophet Muhammad), ijma (consensus of opinion) and qiyas. The ijtihad in the evolution of Islamic law is beyond dispute. The need for ijtihad emerged when the Prophet Muhammad passed away and the process of revelation, to address new issues, came to an end. The foregoing account of the evolution of Islamic law exhibits two trends: its inherent dynamism and adaptation to new circumstances and its assimilation of external elements.

Keywords: ijma; ijtihad; islamic law; Koran; qiyas; Sunnah



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