ISC116 – Introduction to Islamic Law


The module will introduce students to important concepts whilst walking them through the historical development of Islamic law. It will cover:

  • Concept of Divine Law: definition of sharia and its jurisdiction
  • Five categories of rulings
  • Islamic law during the life time of the Prophet, Companions and Imams
  • The position of the Prophet and his successors in the development of Islamic law
  • Formative period, articulation of legal theories
  • History, founders, development, and distinct qualities of major schools of Islamic law:
  • Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, Shafi’i, Ithna ‘Ashari
  • History, founders, development, and distinct qualities of other schools of Islamic law: Zaydi, Zahiri, Ibadi, Isma’ili
  • Major jurists, their biographies and works
  • Introductions to the four sources of Islamic Law: Qur’an, Sunnah, qiyas/’aql and ijma’
  • Ijtihad and taqlid
  • Introduction to usul al-fiqh
  • Tolerance in Islamic Law and diversity of opinions
  • Modern developments in Islamic law

Learning Outcomes

 On completion of this module, the successful student will be able to:

  • Identify the main schools of Islamic law and the significant differences in their approaches to legal issues. (A1)
  • Identify and present an overview of the main topics, providing an outline of the main terms in Islamic law (A1)
  • Examine the history and formation of different schools of Islamic law and their later developments. (A2, A7, A5)

 This module will call for successful student to:

  • Formulate material accurately and present findings orally and be able to participate in class discussion. (B1, C2, C3, D2, D3)
  • Formulate written material accurately in the form of an essay effectively, arguing and debating historical narratives (B3, B4, B5, C4, D3)

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

The basic structure of the module will be provided by the lectures, within which time will be allocated for group work. There will also be seminars to discuss controversial issues. Individual study will consist of general reading, specific historical texts and reading on specific topics. A number of topics will be selected for special reading and seminar discussion. Students will also benefit from supervised presentations.

Assessment Mode

Formative Assessment:
Formative assessment is through co-ordinated independent study of reading material, followed by discussion in class to supplement topics covered and is an essential element of the programme. Students may hand in their PowerPoint slides to the lecturer for guidance prior to the 9th learning week. They will also receive formative feedback on their presentations after completing them, and guidance and feedback can be gained from student-led discussion, which will help them improve future performance. Moreover, the module leader will regularly give feedback to student regarding the progress of their coursework, a draft copy of the completed coursework need be handed in to the module leader before the 10th learning week as part of the formative learning process.

Summative Assessment:
Assessment is by presentation and coursework. The 20 minute presentation will require students to convey their research on an agreed area of the course in an effective manner, and should consist of roughly 10 PowerPoint slides (Outcome 3, 4). The coursework will require the student to write an essay of 3,000 words examining topics covered as part of the module. (Outcomes 1,2, 5)

Assessment Weighting
Presentation: 40%
Coursework: 60%

Learning Materials

Core Reading

  • Hallaq, W. (2016) The Formation of Islamic Law, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Kamali, M. H. (2008) Shari’ah Law: An Introduction, Oxford: Oneworld Publications Schacht, J. (1982) An introduction to Islamic law. Oxford: Clarendon Press.