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School of Law

Islamic law (MA/LLM)

Course Code:
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Full Year

This course presents, from a comparative perspective, an overview of Islamic law in its historical and evolutional perspective. Islamic legal theory is covered comprehensively in term one. This includes a critical analysis of the legal history, jurisprudential development, the schools of Islamic law, classical and modern theories, evolution of the law up to the present, and its contemporary applications. The course engages with both classical and contemporary scholarship and current critical theoretical debates ongoing in the field. Islamic criminal law and judicial procedure are also covered as aspects of Islamic substantive law in term one.

In term two, Islamic family law is comprehensively covered with principal focus on the law of marriage, dissolution of marriages, guardianship and child custody. These are examined in light of classical rules and recent family law reforms in the Muslim world. Current applicable family laws of selected Muslim-majority states will be examined within the context of the classical rules. Judicial decisions from UK courts in relation to Islamic law, as well as from courts in different parts of the Muslim world will also be examined. The course is based principally on contemporary English-language scholarship and no prior knowledge of Arabic language is required or presumed.

Prof. Mashood Baderin talks about studying islamic law at SOAS, University of London

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of this course, students should be familiar with a range of English-language scholarship on Islamic law generally, and have a clear understanding of Islamic legal theory and Islamic family law, and consequently should be able to:

  • reflect critically on topical issues raised in contemporary debates about Islamic law;
  • appreciate the scope of reform and application of Islamic family law in modern times;
  • Carry out independent research in the field of Islamic law;
  • Undertake both written and oral analysis and debate on key issues in Islamic law.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 40% (4000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 60%

Suggested reading

  • Coulson, N.J., A History of Islamic Law (EUP, 1963).
  • Kamali, H.M., Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (ITS, 2005).
  • Hallaq, W., A History of Islamic Legal Theories, (CUP,1997)
  • Baderin, M.A. (ed.) Islamic Legal Theory Vol.1 (Ashgate, 2010), Islamic Substantive Law, Vol. 2 (Ashgate, 2010), Islamic Law in Practice, Vol.3, (Ashgate, 2010).
  • Welchman, L., Women and Muslim Family Law in Arab States (AUP, 2007).