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ILSP Lunch Talk: A History Without Gaps: Legal Maxims and the Evolution of Islamic Law
November 16, 2017 @ 12:00 - 13:00
Speaker: Mariam Sheibani, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago
The emergence and functions of legal maxims in Islamic law remains an understudied field in Islamic legal history. Scholars have noted early interest in maxims in the tenth and eleventh centuries, followed by a period of dormancy prior to the eruption of maxim treatises in the fourteenth century. This has led some scholars to speak of a period of stagnation of the genre during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. I closely study the terminological and conceptual evolution of maxims in Shāfiʿī legal literature from the founding of the school in the ninth century to the emergence of maxim treatises in the fourteenth century. Examining this evolution not only provides a history of maxims without gaps, but it also offers unexpected insights about the significant role of maxims in negotiating jurists’ competing visions of the law, in the consolidation of the legal schools and in legal practice inside and outside the courts.