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Divine Purposiveness and its Implications in Legal Theory: The Interplay of Kalām and Uṣūl al-Fiqh

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While jurisprudents agree that the Sharīʿa serves to benefit human beings because God is wise and merciful, they disagree as to the nature of the correlation between God’s rulings and these benefits. Does God legislate with the purpose of benefitting consumers of the law? In this essay I investigate the Ashʿarī doctrine on whether God can be said to act purposively and how this doctrine influences legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh). I will examine Sayf al-Dīn al-Āmidī’s position on this issue in his theological writings and his work on legal theory. By focusing on one particular aspect of legal theory, I will demonstrate how the issue of purposiveness in God’s acts substantively impacts methodologies for the derivation of legal rules. I will then highlight the mechanisms al-Āmidī develops as a means of constructing a theory that maintains consistency and integrity, and compare his view to that of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s (d. 606/1209).

Affiliations: 1: Stanford Law School


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