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Model ShurūṬ Works and the Dialectic of Doctrine and Practice

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The relationship between documents emanating from the world of judicial practice and model formulae recorded in juristic manuals has been viewed differentially by modern scholars. Whereas Joseph Schacht posited the existence of a close relationship between the the realia of judicial practice and juristic manuals, others did not. Going one step beyond Schacht, I argue that the relationship between model ShurūṬ and documents originating in practice was dialectical, involving complex processes of editing, interpolation and selection, processes that functioned — almost imperceptibly — within the conventional legal dynamics of the madhhab. If this view is accepted, it follows that the conventional wisdom regarding a gap between Islamic legal doctrine and judicial practice is untenable, at least in the areas of the law covered by ShurūṬ manuals.

Affiliations: 1: McGill University


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