Chapter 7: Shari’a: Dynamic Method or Fixed Law? Does it Matter?
Haifaa G. Khalafallah [+]
Sinai Centre for Islamic Mediterranean Studies
One thing stands out throughout Ghazali’s life, which reinforced his influence among fellow Muslims: his absolute loyalty to Shari’a. Yet, neither the sum of his texts, the various crises he triggered, the Shari’a rules he deduced, nor his own words indicate that such loyalty was to an Islamic law, let alone a definite code. Chapter seven explores the technical and historical outlines of the Sharia rule/lawmaking process, the method to which Ghazali and his people subscribed. It includes a portrait of a seminar that Ghazali held in Cairo, which was attended by some of the most influential scholars of Mainstream Islam in that country. Their deliberations provide a window on this senior crowd’s approaches to Shari'a and fiqh in the late 20th century, highlighting the question of whether or not it matters that Shari'a rulemaking is understood mainly in terms of a law or as a process. The disparity between the assumptions of Islamic law and how these Egyptian scholars view Shari’a reveals worrying gaps in understanding the Muslim experiences, which the author argues, suggests that it is time to overhaul the academic discourse on Islam, especially when it comes to its rulemaking.