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Loyola of Los Angeles International & Comparative Law Annual


Sharia, Islamic law, reform, Traditions of the Prophet, Joseph Schacht, western influences


It is here where Schacht's service to Islamic law becomes most salutary. He has made it possible for this great legal tradition to free itself from an unthinking bondage to issues relevant to the second Islamic century, and thus open anew the gate to ijtihad. Mujtahids need no longer fear they are revising divine law when they develop the traditional norms of Islamic law beyond the confines imposed by taqlid. The Sunna of Islam remains the way of the Prophet's devout followers, even though it may not be the way of the Messenger himself. In this fashion, respect for the Sunna and the authority of its rules can continue, but as its source can no longer be determined to be divine, a principled and creative reform can take place making the Shari'a once again a dynamic legal force contending with the current problems of Muslim society.

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