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What Is the Sharia?

Relevant to contemporary times when Sharia, generally referred to as Islamic law, has been associated with numerous negative connotations –ranging from anti-women, homophobic and cruel– Baudouin Dupret’s What is the Sharia? is a timely treatise which offers clarification of sharia as a concept.

 

Relevant to contemporary times when Sharia, generally referred to as Islamic law, has been associated with numerous negative connotations –ranging from anti-women, homophobic and cruel– Baudouin Dupret’s What is the Sharia? is a timely treatise which offers clarification of sharia as a concept. Instead of providing a historical analysis of the development of various schools of Islamic jurisprudence and a detailed evaluation around contested themes like Islamic finance, the criminal justice system, or Islamic family law, Dupret adopts a methodology and style of argumentation similar to Shahab Ahmad’s What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic.1 By focusing on the historical and contingent nature of sharia, the book presents the contribution of concrete contexts in the shaping of divine law (sharia). Dupret writes that the meaning and significance of Islam and Sharia “vary in space and time” (p. 4). Thus, they are “capable of evolution” (p. 1), contrary to the dominant perceptions about their stagnant nature.

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