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Introduction to Islamic law

Module information>

Academic Direction
Laws Consortium
Modes of Study

The module offers an overview of Islamic law covering its religious historical and contemporary dimensions.

Introduction to Islamic law is offered as an optional module to Standard Entry and Graduate Entry LLB students. It is also available to study as an Individual Module. 

Credits from an Individual Module do not count towards the requirements of the LLB. 

The module offers an overview of Islamic law covering its religious, historical and contemporary dimensions. The module addresses first the religious and historical foundations of Islamic law before going on to address its application in contemporary jurisdictions. The theoretical, substantive and procedural aspects of Islamic law are covered.

Topics covered

Part I 

  •  Introduction: Understanding Islamic law; Islamic law in the modern age and its role in international law; Its importance as part of the legal system in modern states; Meaning of Shar’iah. 
  • Origins and history: Pre-Islamic Arabia; Arab tribal law; The life of Prophet Muhammed; The Al-Rāshidūn caliphs; The Ummayyads and the Abbasids; The Ahl al-ra’y and the Ahl al-hadīth; The role of Imām Al-Shāfi’ī. 
  • Sources, methods and principles of Islamic law: The Qur’an as a law text; The Sunnah of the Prophet; Hadith material and authentication; The controversy of authentication; Ijma‘, Qiyas, Istihsan, Maslahah, Darurah, Istishab, Ijtihad. 
  • Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence: The Sunni and Shi’i. The Sunni Schools: Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, Shafi’i. The Shi’i schools: Ithna Ashari, Isma’ili, Zaydi. 

Part II

  • Penal law: Hadd offences; Ta’zir offences; Qisas offences; Pakistan’s Hudood Ordinances; Other Shari’ah Penal Codes. 
  • Civil law: Contracts and tort; Freedom of Contract, Prohibition of Riba and Gharar, Murabahah, Musharakah, Mudarabah, Pre-emption; Gifts; Tortious actions and liability. 
  • Family law: Marriage contract; Rights and duties; Incidents of Marriage; Guardianship; Maintenance; Stipulations; Dissolution of marriages; Children; Legitimacy; Child custody. 
  • Succession: Intestate and Testate Rules, Qur’anic heirs, Agnates; the Mafqūd; Death sickness; Waqfs. 
  • Courts and procedure: The Qadi’s court; General rules of procedure, evidence and proof. 

Learning outcomes

If you complete the module successfully you should be able to:

  • Detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the sources, methods and principles of Islamic law;
  • Detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the role of Islamic law in the contemporary world; 
  • Detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the main features of the administration of Islamic justice, including: the role and function of Islamic courts, role of judges, evidence and proof; 
  • Detailed knowledge and critical understanding of specific substantive topics of Islamic law, such as crime, contract, tort, family law, succession, courts and procedures.
  • Research and analyse complex and conceptual questions on Islamic law, producing reasoned and evidenced responses; 
  • Articulate well-argued solutions to complex legal problems in the areas of Islamic family law, penal law, tort, contract, succession, and administration of justice; 
  • Reflect on learning, identifying areas for improvement in Islamic law, particularly in response to contemporary challenges, and responding appropriately; 
  • Evaluate Islamic law issues in a social, economic and political context, taking account of their policy and doctrinal importance.


4hr 15 mins unseen examination.

Essential reading

  • Abd al 'Ati, H. The family structure in Islam. (Chicago: The American Trust Publications, 1995) fourth edition [ISBN 9780892590049]. 
  • Baderin, M.A. Islamic law: a very short introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021) [ISBN 9780199665594]. 
  • Coulson, N.J. A history of Islamic law. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994) [ISBN 9780748605149] (available in VLeBooks via the Online Library). 
  • Kamali, M.H. Principles of Islamic jurisprudence. (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 2003) third edition [ISBN 9780946621828].