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Al-Shaʿrānī’s Response to Legal Purism:

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A Theory of Legal Pluralism

Despite the claims of the Egyptian mystic ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Shaʿrānī (d. 973/1565) about the novelty of his legal work, many legal scholars see his contribution as a conservative restatement of a well-established doctrine of legal pluralism. This view implies that there was an uncontested view that supported pragmatic forum selection, which he was simply rehashing. I will offer a reevaluation of al-Shaʿrānī’s legal work, placing it within the larger debate about the pragmatic selection of juristic views to facilitate people’s transactions and Ottoman Ḥanafization. I will examine his al-Mīzān al-Kubrā and Kashf al-Ghumma and situate his project within a centuries-old theoretical legal debate, showing that his theory departs in significant ways from the views of his predecessors.

Affiliations: 1: McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, Morrice Hall, Room 319, 3485 McTavish Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A 0E1, Canada


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