The jurists’ law: a new framework for an inquiry into Muslim legal thinking


This is a summary of Islamic law’s basic features which proposes a new conceptual framework for understanding historical sources on juridical thinking (fiqh) and legal practices. It benefits from a chronological approach to the legal rulings that Muslim law schools developed, commented on, and transmitted from the 4th/10th to the 13th/19th centuries. (more…)

Islamic law as applied law

The comparative analysis of legal documents opens new research perspectives on applied law in premodern Muslim societies, a hitherto neglected aspect in Islamic legal studies. All authentic deeds are relics of applied law as they were issued in real cases for individual persons in order to safeguard their rights or to define their obligations within the legal order of their time.


Arabic legal documents and socio-economic history

Legal documents were the main guarantee for people who went to law to keep their rights intact. Thus, they approached the notaries to have these legal instruments written down. The study of the social and economic history of Islam in premodern times, using the legal documents as the main source, should always have this premise in mind, as it was mainly individuals (and not those working in the legal system) who demanded the writing out of documents. In this sense, as historians, if we bear in mind this agency for the “consumers” of Islamic law, we will foster a more dynamic perspective in the study of Islamic societies.


CALD: a very short introduction

The database CALD constitutes a new research tool for the comparative study of legal documents in Islam. First developed by the ERC-AdG-project Islamic Law Materialized (ILM), CALD contains meta-data, Arabic text and images of documents from the 7th to the 16th centuries CE from various regions of the Muslim world.


The short inventory number (SIN)

With the short inventory number (SIN) for each document, CALD uses a specific reference that adapts to the requirement of displaying documents in lists and of mass citations: The SIN combines information on place and holding institution, eventually on particular collections within an institution and the inventory number of each specimen.


Mapping content by sequence numbers (SQN)

Sequence numbers are the backbone of scientific study of legal documents in CALD. They are attributed to each textual sequence according to content (or function), the default value being 660 for non-identified content. As such, they reflect the documents’ content in an abstract form that neglects individual details.

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