Next month, Edinburgh University Press releases Reclaiming Islamic Tradition: Modern Interpretations of the Classical Heritage, edited by Elisabeth Kendall (Oxford) and Ahmad Khan (Oxford). The publisher’s description follows:
Recent events in the Islamic world have demonstrated the endurance, neglect and careful reshaping of the classical Islamic heritage. A range of modern Islamic movements and intellectuals has sought to reclaim certain concepts, ideas, persons and trends from the Islamic tradition. This book profiles some of the fundamental debates that have defined the conversation between the past and the present in the Islamic world. Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic law, gender, violence and eschatology are just some of the key themes in this study of the Islamic tradition’s vitality in the modern Islamic world. This book will allow readers to situate modern developments in the Islamic world within the longue durée of Islamic history and thought.
In May, Academic Stuies Press will release “The Unique Judicial Vision of Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk: Selected Discourses in Meshekh Hokhmah and Or Sameah” by Yitshak Cohen (Ono Academic College Faculty of Law). The publisher’s description follows:
This book analyzes the exceptional normative impact of R. Meir Simcha Hacohen’s Biblical commentary, Meshekh Hokhmah, and his halakhic commentary, Or Sameah. It examines the reliance of the poskim on R. Meir Simcha’s innovations and hermeneutic methods as well as their view of his interpretations that broadened or narrowed the scope of Maimonides’ rulings. The book explores the broad-based judicial principles underlying R. Meir Simcha’s legal decisions and approach to Jewish law. It further examines how his legal creativity was impacted by metahalakhic principles that guided him in addressing changing historical and social realities. The book also considers R. Meir Simcha’s unique attitudes toward gentiles. His approach attests to his innovativeness and his halakhic moderation, as he tried to rule as leniently as possible on matters concerning non-Jews. In this book, R. Meir Simcha is shown to be a truly influential rabbi whose contributions will long be a source of study and discussion.
In March, the Catholic University of America Press will release “Gratian the Theologian” by John C. Wei (law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit). The publisher’s description follows:
Gratian the Theologian shows how one of the best-known canonists of the medieval period was also an accomplished theologian. Well into the twelfth century, compilations of Church law often dealt with theological issues. Gratian’s Concordia discordantium canonum or Decretum, which was originally compiled around 1140, was no exception, and so Wei claims in this provocative book. The Decretum is the fundamental canon law work of the twelfth century, which served as both the standard textbook of canon law in the medieval schools and an authoritative law book in ecclesiastical and secular courts. Yet theology features prominently throughout the Decretum, both for its own sake and for its connection to canon law and canonistic jurisprudence.
This book provides an introduction to and reassessment of three aspects of Gratian’s theology: his use of the Bible and biblical exegesis; his penitential theology; and his handling of the other sacraments and the liturgy. The manuscript discoveries and methodological breakthroughs of the past few decades have rendered older accounts of Gratian’s theology obsolete. This book reappraises Gratian’s theological views and doctrines in light of recent scholarly advances, particularly the discovery of new theological sources that Gratian appears to have known and used and the discovery of the first recension of the Decretum, which differs in significant ways from the considerably longer vulgate text that scholars have traditionally relied upon. In the process, this book also uncovers new evidence concerning Gratian’s intellectual background and milieu and provides new insights into the Decretum’s composition, structure, and development.
Ultimately, this book does more than just enhance our understanding of Gratian the theologian. It also contributes significantly to our knowledge of Gratian the jurist and to the world of theology and law in which he worked.
In April, Brill will release “Sharīʿa and the Islamic State in 19th-Century Sudan: The Mahdī’s Legal Methodology and Doctrine” by Aharon Layish (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). The publisher’s description follows:
The Sudanese Mahdī headed a millenarian, revivalist, reformist movement in Islam, strongly inspired by Salafī and Ṣūfī ideas, in late 19th century in an attempt to restore the Caliphate of the Prophet and “Righteous Caliphs” in Medina. As the “Successor of the Prophet”, the Mahdī was conceived of as the political head of the Islamic state and its supreme religious authority. On the basis of his legal opinions, decisions, proclamations and “traditions” attributed to him, an attempt is made to reconstruct his legal methodology consisting of the Qurʾān, sunna, and inspiration (ilhām) derived from the Prophet and God, its origins, and its impact on Islamic legal doctrine, and to assess his “legislation” as an instrument to promote his political, social and moralistic agenda.
In March, Oxford University Press will release “From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright Since the Birth of Print” by Neil Weinstock Netanel (University of California at Los Angeles School of Law). The publisher’s description follows:
Jewish copyright law is a rich body of jurisprudence that developed in parallel with modern copyright laws and the book privileges that preceded them. Jewish copyright law owes its origins to a reprinting ban that the Rome rabbinic court issued for three books of Hebrew grammar in 1518. It continues to be applied today, notably in a rabbinic ruling outlawing pirated software, issued at Microsoft’s request.
In From Maimonides to Microsoft, Professor Netanel traces the historical development of Jewish copyright law by comparing rabbinic reprinting bans with secular and papal book privileges and by relaying the stories of dramatic disputes among publishers of books of Jewish learning and liturgy. He describes each dispute in its historical context and examines the rabbinic rulings that sought to resolve it. Remarkably, the rabbinic reprinting bans and copyright rulings address some of the same issues that animate copyright jurisprudence today: Is copyright a property right or just a right to receive fair compensation? How long should copyrights last? What purposes does copyright serve? While Jewish copyright law has borrowed from its secular law counterpart at key junctures, it fashions strikingly different answers to those key questions.
The story of Jewish copyright law also intertwines with the history of the Jewish book trade and with steadfast efforts of rabbinic leaders to maintain their authority to regulate that trade in the face of the dramatic erosion of Jewish communal autonomy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This book will thus be of considerable interest to students of Jewish law and history as well as copyright scholars and practitioners.
In February, Cambridge University Press will release “How Marriage Became One of the Sacraments: The Sacramental Theology of Marriage from its Medieval Origins to the Council of Trent” by Philiip Reynolds (Emory University). The publisher’s description follows:
Among the contributions of the medieval church to western culture was the idea that marriage was one of the seven sacraments, which defined the role of married folk in the church. Although it had ancient roots, this new way of regarding marriage raised many problems, to which scholastic theologians applied all their ingenuity. By the late Middle Ages, the doctrine was fully established in Christian thought and practice but not yet as dogma. In the sixteenth century, with the entire Catholic teaching on marriage and celibacy and its associated law and jurisdiction under attack by the Protestant reformers, the Council of Trent defined the doctrine as a dogma of faith for the first time but made major changes to it. Rather than focusing on a particular aspect of intellectual and institutional developments, this book examines them in depth and in detail from their ancient precedents to the Council of Trent
This month, Cambridge University Press will release “Shari’a in the Modern Era: Muslim Minorities Jurisprudence” by Iyad Zahalka (Chief Judge, Shari’a Court, Jerusalem). The publisher’s description follows:
Written by the Qadi (judge) of the Shari’a Court of Jerusalem and former director of the Shari’a Court system in Israel, this book offers a unique perspective on the religious law of Muslim minorities living in the West. Specifically, it explores the fiqh al-aqalliyyāt doctrine of religious jurisprudence developed by modern Islamic jurists to resolve the challenges of maintaining cultural and religious identity in majority non-Muslim societies. The author examines possible applications across numerous cultural and geographical contexts, answering such questions as: what are the rules for assuming political and public roles, and should one deposit money that incurs interest? Building on a growing scholarship, this book aims to resolve points of view and facets of religious law that have been neglected by previous studies. Accessibly written, Shari’a in the Modern Era is designed to promote cross-cultural understanding among readers of all faiths.
In January, Routledge will release “Islamic Law and Society in Iran: A Social History of Tehran” by Nobuaki Kondo (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies). The publisher’s description follows:
This book explores the legal aspects of urban society in nineteenth-century Iran. It provides the social context in which political process occurred and examines how authorities applied law in society, how people utilized the law, and how the law regulated society. The legal system was primarily derived from Islamic la
In his thorough analysis, the author focuses on two themes: the shari‘a court and vaqf (endowments). The shari‘a court was the location, where law was applied, and the author shows that the majority of courts in the country did not engage in disputes, lawsuits, and litigation, but were instead involved primarily in popular transactions such as sales, loans, leases, gifts, and other commercial contracts. This is one of the main reasons that led to the development of close ties between religious clerics as legal professionals, on the one hand, and, on the other, merchants, traders, and shopkeepers in Iranian society during this time period. The second topic, the law of vaqf, is considered to be the strongest among the contracts of Islamic law and an essential part in the development of an Islamic city. Vaqf deeds constituted one of the most common and important types of transactions dealt with by any shari’a court in Iran. Using the alterations that occurred in the legal terms of very important vaqf deeds as an example, the author argues that this traditional legal system was itself not static but had the potential for change and modification.
The relationship between Islamic law and society is still an important issue in Iran under the Islamic Republic. Despite all the debates that began from the middle of the nineteenth century and which promoted legal reform, little was changed substantively in the area of the day-to-day practice of law in Iranian courts until the present day. This book provides an understanding of this legal system and its role in society, and offers a basis for assessing the motives and results of modern reforms as well as the modernist discourse.
In December, Routledge will release “Jewish Law Annual Volume 21” edited by Berachyahu Lifshitz (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem). The publisher’s description follows:
Volume 21 of The Jewish Law Annual adds to the growing list of articles on
Jewish law that have been published in volumes 1- 20 of this series, providing English-speaking readers with scholarly articles presenting jurisprudential, historical, textual and comparative analysis of issues in Jewish law.
This month, Oxford University Press will release “Shari’a and Muslim Minorities: The Wasati and Salafi Approaches to Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat al-Muslima” by Uriya Shavit (Tel Aviv University). The publisher’s description follows:
Based on a comparative analysis of several hundred religio-juristic treatises and fatwas (religious decisions), Shari’a and Muslim Minorities: The Wasati and Salafi Approaches to Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat al-Muslima offers the most systematic and comprehensive study to date of fiqh al aqalliyyat al-Muslima – the field in Islamic jurisprudence that treats issues that are unique to Muslims living in majority non-Muslim societies. The book argues that two main contesting approaches to fiqh al-aqalliyyat al-Muslima, the wasati and the salafi, have developed, in part dialectically. While both envision a future Islamizing of the West as a main justification for Muslim residence in the West, the wasati approach is pragmatic, facilitating, and integration-minded, whereas the salafi calls for strict application of religious norms and for introversion.
The volume examines diverse and highly-debated juristic issues, including the permissibility of naturalizing in non-Muslim states, participating in their electoral systems and serving in their militaries and police forces; the permissibility of taking mortgages and student loans; the permissibility of congratulating Christians on Christmas or receiving Christmas bonuses; and the permissibility of working in professions that involve breaching of religio-legal prohibitions (e.g. serving pork). Discussions highlight the diversity within contemporary Islamic jurisprudence and introduce new nuances to highly-charged concepts such as proselytizing, integration, and multiculturalism.