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Study information

Islamic Law and Society

Module titleIslamic Law and Society
Module codeLAW3132
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Mustafa Baig (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module focuses on the Islamic legal system – both in the theory of how jurists have conceived of it, and the practice – how it has been implemented in courts and by modern national states. It covers the various elements of Islamic law from its early beginnings to its contemporary manifestations, and will involve a reading of Islamic legal texts to identify the legal dynamics of their composition and the practical implications of their implementation. In the module students will study some of the legal issues which have emerged in the modern period from the introduction of Islamic law in both the Muslim-majority world and Europe. The focus is on identifying those issues where the implementation of Shari’a might be problematic, and investigate how Muslim lawgivers and thinkers have proposed solutions to these problems.

Module aims - intentions of the module

You will learn the basics of Islamic law in different fields ranging from family law to criminal law. It will acquaint you with the various theoretical underpinnings of Islamic law. You will also learn how Islamic law is applied in different countries. The module has been developed for lawyers and will focus on the development of legal skills and expertise which will be relevant in the professional world. The main aim of the module is indeed to empower those of you who are not familiar with Islamic law with the competence to understand the meaning of Islamic legal terms and documents.

The module is recommended to anyone who wishes to learn the basics about Islamic law, from a practitioner or an academic perspective. The accent will be set on developing a critical stance to the existing legal documents, courts’ approaches and academic commentaries.

There is no pre-requisite or co-requisite to take this module, and is recommended for inter-disciplinary pathways

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate an understanding of this specialist area of law by applying relevant knowledge of Islamic law to argue persuasively during seminars and in assessments;
  • 2. select and exemplify rules of Islamic law to analyse and apply accurate commentary on given situations
  • 3. appraise issues pertaining to the enforcement of Islamic law in various contexts by contrasting and selecting solutions, applying those to previously unseen cases;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. assess legal situations and case law with a professional eye in order to advise clients or judges;
  • 5. demonstrate critical understanding of comparative and alternative frameworks for analysing legal problems;
  • 6. recognise and deploy contrasting legal and ethical arguments;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. demonstrate problem-solving skills and be able to identify key issues to analyse them logically and be competent in making reasoned choices or reaching a conclusion based on the given facts.
  • 8. assess and compare information from relevant sources to demonstrate an in depth knowledge of current affairs, with an aim to evaluate the content in class and during seminars
  • 9. research and analyse independently and in a group.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction to Islamic law: What is Islamic law? Sources of Islamic Law 
  • Philosophy of Islamic law and Islamic Legal Thought -Classic Islamic Law 
  • Pre-Modern Reform, Colonialism and Modernity - Islamic Law and State Legislation 
  • Islamic Legal Thought: Past and Present
  • Legal Institutions: Courts and Procedure 
  • Contracts and Torts 
  • Islamic Criminal Law 
  • Islamic Marriage and Divorce Law
  • Islamic Inheritance Law
  • Islamic law and Muslim Communities in the West
  • Islamic legal revivalism and its consequences

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activity 24Lectures and small group discussion/seminars, with use of ELE support materials. Interactive lectures, 2 hours per week, will provide students with guidance through key theories and foster critical commentary, alone or in group.
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activity 3Workshops: 1 hour three times a term. For each seminar, students are required to work independently and/or as a group on oral presentations based on specific issues regarding Islamic Law. Issues for consideration, discussion and debate are provided in the module hand out. Students are required to engage in independent research
Guided independent study122Independent study: workshop preparation (15 hours); reading (40 hours); research for essay, and class (68 hours)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
One ten-minute presentation Ten minutes1-9Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
24-hour open book exam10024 hours – circa 2,500 words1-9Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
24-hour open book exam (2,500 words)24-hour open book (2,500 words) exam1-9August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Hallaq, Wael, An Introduction to Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press, 2009), ISBN 978-0521861465 
Neilsen, Jorgen (ed.) Sharia as Discourse (Routledge, 20016) 0754679551

Peters, Ruud and Bearman, Peri, Ashgate Companion to Islamic Law (Ashgate 2014), ISBN 9781409438939

Vikor, Knut, Between God and the Sultan: A History of Islamic Law (Oxford University Press, 2007) ISBN 0195223985

Further Readings: 
Brown, Daniel, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1999), ISBN 978-0521653947 
Nik, Norzul Thani et al., Law and Practice of Islamic Banking and Finance (Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia : Sweet & Maxwell Asia, 2008), ISBN 9839088769 
Hallaq, Wael, Authority, Continuity and Change in Islamic Law (Cambridge, UK ;New York : Cambridge University Press, 2001), ISBN 978-0521803311 
Hallaq, Wael, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law (Cambridge, UK ;New York : Cambridge University Press, 2005), ISBN 978-0521005807 
Ray, Nicholas Dylan, Arab Islamic Banking and the Renewal of Islamic Law (London ;Boston : Graham & Trotman, 1995), ISBN 978-1859661048 
Saeed, Abdullah, Islamic Thought: an Introduction (Routledge, 2006) ISBN 978-0415364096 
Vogel, Frank, Islamic Law and Finance: Religion, Risk and Return (The Hague ;Boston : Kluwer Law International, c1998), ISBN 978-9041106247 
Weiss, Bernard, The Spirit of Islamic Law (University of Georgia Press, 2006), ISBN 978-0820328270 

Journal of Islamic Law and Culture 
Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern & Islamic Law 
Islamic Law and Society

Key words search

Islamic Law, Society, Family Law, Criminal Law, legal terms,

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date