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The use of islamic jurisprudence as a documentary source

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Chapter Summary

This chapter intends to gauge Islamic jurisprudence’s relevance vis-à-vis the history of al-Andalus in general and that of pious endowments in particular. According to J. Schacht, the history of Islamic law is dictated by the contrast between theory and reality. It is precisely this contrast that hinders historians from using Islamic jurisprudence for the most important criticism raised against it is its excessively hypothetical and theoretical character, and its lack of a direct connection to the society in which it is practised. In order to argue against this view of a separation between Islamic jurisprudence and social reality it is necessary to analyse the legal texts themselves. We must acknowledge the fact that, most of the fatāwā available to us in the several compilations of jurisprudence follow the ‘out of context’ model, though this is a mere personal impression, given the lack of comprehensive and systematic studies on the issue.

Keywords: al-Andalus; fatāwā; Islamic jurisprudence; pious endowments; social reality



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