Law and Society in Islam

This book covers significant themes explaining the practice of Islamic law.

The first essay treats taqiyyah (literally, “caution”), the concealment of one’s religion when to reveal it would incur danger, which is based on a Koranic passage. The author provides not only a legal and religious analysis of taqiyyah, but also, through the detailed examination of a prominent sixteenth-century Shiite scholar and cleric, reveals a complex pattern of behavior that allows Twelver Shi’is and other sectarian groups to reduce the risks entailed by participation in societies dominated by a Sunni majority.

The second essay inquires into norms for physical and sexual contacts between individuals, even husbands and wives, defining rights to look, to touch, and even to mutilate.

The third essay evaluates the Ottoman records of local fines. This report on legal regulations and their execution as well as on practices of law and tradition in villages of Northern Palestine creates a colorful picture of life in the sixteenth century.

Devin J. Stewart is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Emory University. He specializes in Islamic law and legal theory, Shi’ite Islam, the Qur’an, and Arabic dialects. He is the author of numerous articles as well as three books, including Law and Education in Islam. 

Baber Johansen is Professor of Islamic Religious Studies at Harvard Divinity School. Prior to his appointment, he served as Directeur d’Études at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Centre d’étude des normes juridiques), Paris. His research and teaching focus on the relationship between religion and law in the classical and the modern Muslim world. Johansen was twice elected a member of the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and has been a visiting professor at the Watson Institute (Providence), Harvard University, and Ca’ Foscari (Venice).

Amy Singer is a professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University. Her recent books include Charity in Islamic Societies and Starting with Food: Culinary Approaches to Ottoman History (also available from Markus Wiener).