Islamic Natural Law Theories By Anver M. Emon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. hbk. 222 pages)

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Yushau Sodiq

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Abstract

Emon’s Islamic Natural Law Theories, is an excellent source of research
for specialists in Islamic jurisprudence. It is not for the general public.
Emon divides his work into five chapters: Introduction, Hard Natural Law,
The Critique of Hard Natural Law, Soft Natural Law, and Conclusion. Both
his style and his usage of words are fascinating. His understanding of the
premodern works on Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) reflects his indepth
research and comprehension of classical works. His rendering of jurisprudential
terms (alfaz usuliyyah) into English language also marks his
great familiarity with Islamic sources. This work is an excellent addition to
the literature on Islamic law.
Emon’s work focuses on the ontological authority of reason in the
Shari‘ah. He investigates the use of reason in establishing a rule of law
alongside the source texts. He explicates the meanings of natural law as
understood by premodern jurists and explains to what extent, in the absence
of source texts, can good and bad (husn and qubh) assume sufficient
normative authority, which will result in Shari‘ah obligation.
Emon affirms that the use of reason in Shari‘ah has been debated extensively
by Muslim jurists. While many scholars rejected the authority of
reason in legislation, others endorsed it. However, in practice, all scholars
resort to it in one form or another. From chapter one to the end, Emon successfully
explains with lucidity the concept of good and bad. He analyzes
this concept from the perspectives of major Muslim scholars from different
schools of Islamic jurisprudence. He selects leading scholars from each
school ‒ like Qadi Abdul Jabbar, Abu Husayn al-Basri, Abu Bakr al Jassas,
al-Ghazali, al-Qarafi, al-Shatibi, Ibn Hazm al-Zahiri, and others ...

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