The formation of Islamic hermeneutics: how sunni legal theorists imagined a revealed law, by David R. Vishanoff

Wilferd Madelung


The Formation of Islamic Hermeneutics: How Sunni Legal Theorists Imagined a Revealed Law, by David R. Vishanoff, (American Oriental Series: 93), (New Haven, Connecticut: American Oriental Society, 2011), xxi + 318 pp., ISBN: 978-0-940490-31-4, $46 (cloth)

(First paragraph)
The hermeneutical aspects of Islamic legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh), defined by the author of the present book as "the part of legal theory that focuses on the analysis and interpretation of the language of a scriptural canon" (p. xiii), has in recent decades been subject of a few significant detail studies, but not of any comprehensive systematic treatment. The present book provides a first comprehensive and systematic analysis of the development of Sunnī legal hermeneutics from its origins through the first half of the 5th/11th century, described by the author as "the formative or preclassical period of Islamic legal hermeneutics." The classical period, Vishanoff explains, began "in the second half of the 5th/11th century, which witnessed a sudden proliferation of major works that would become enduring points of reference for the discipline by scholars such as Abū l-Walīd al-Bājī, Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī, Abū l-ʿUsr al-Bazdawī, Imām al-Ḥaramayn al-Juwaynī, al-Sarakhsī, al-Ghazālī, Ibn ʿAqīl, and Ibn Barhān" (p. xv).

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A Journal on Islamic and Religious Studies, 2009-2019 eISSN 1309-1719

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