In her brilliant new book Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions
(Cambridge University Press, 2016), Lena Salaymeh
, Associate Professor of Law at Tel Aviv University, presents a fascinating account of the historical unfolding of Islamic Law that combines dazzling textual analysis with cutting-edge theoretical interventions. Beginnings of Islamic Law
makes a formidable and eminently convincing case for a carefully historicized approach to the study of Islamic law while arguing for the intimate entanglement of law and history. Another hallmark of this book is its focus putting Islamic Legal traditions in conversation with Jewish Law in singularly productive ways. Through a historically grounded and theoretically sophisticated comparison of Islamic and Jewish Law on specific questions of ethics and practice such as women initiated divorce, treatment of prisoners of war, and circumcision, this book highlights important and often surprising points of overlap and divergence. In our conversation we talked about the major themes, arguments, and possible misinterpretations of the book. Beginnings of Islamic Law will be of great interest to all students of Islam, Islamic Law, Jewish Law, Legal Studies, and the study of Religion more broadly. It should also make an excellent text for courses on these subjects.
SherAli Tareen is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available at https://fandm.academia.edu/SheraliTareen/. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listener feedback is most welcome.