Islamic Legal Genres – Mohammed Fadel

On February 24, 2021, Mohammed Fadel (University of Toronto) presented “Form, Function, and Historical Development of Mukhtaṣar as a Genre.” Fadel’s lecture described the history, purpose, and nature of late medieval Mālikī mukhtaṣars. The mukhtaṣar as a genre allows jurists to tersely summarize their school’s positions, offering the Sunnī madhhab system a sense of cohesion and predictability. Fadel indicated the importance of the mukhtaṣar’s formulaic concepts for the rule of law in a society ruled by sharīʿa. Because ijtihād is a solitary practice based on the exertion of individual mental effort, the legal opinion reached by ijtihād cannot be evaluated. In short, a society whose legal class is composed exclusively of mujtahids would not have positive law. Taqlīd therefore becomes key for legal actors to expect legal consequences, stipulations, and claims, enhancing legal certainty. Read more on our blog and watch the video today.