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Casuistry: Between Legal Concept and Social Praxis

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Casuistry is generally regarded as an important method of reasoning employed by Muslim jurists; Western scholars emphasize its deficiencies and negative effects on the normative structure of Islamic Law, ascribing its preponderance in legal discourse to the quest for abstract thought and jurisprudential (uṢūlī) verbiage. Against this view, I argue that casuistry pertains to a process of social differentiation that renders the universal validity of norms socially implausible and that Muslim jurists often engaged in casuistry in an effort to answer practical problems that evolve from this process of social differentiation.

Affiliations: 1: École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales Paris


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