Journal of Islamic Studies 32 (1):27-61 (2021)

Modern studies of Ibn Khaldūn have covered several aspects of his thought including historiography, pedagogy, philosophy, economy, urbanism and, most recently, mysticism. However, there remains conspicuously little on the place of the law within his intellectual enterprise despite the fact that the law had played a central role in his career as scholar, teacher, and statesman. This paper reconstructs two expressions of his relationship with the law: his conceptualization of it as a scholar, and his practice of it as a justice administrator. It first examines Ibn Khaldūn’s legal training, writings and performance, with close attention to his role as a Mālikī chief judge in Mamlūk Egypt. Then, it probes his perspective on the development of Islamic law and its institutions through a systematic analysis of his account of fiqh and uṣūl al-fiqh in the Muqaddima. The paper concludes that Ibn Khaldūn’s narrative fulfills two main tendencies: to contribute a critical analysis of the history of Islamic law, and to represent this history in a novel fashion through his theory of society and culture.
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DOI 10.1093/jis/etaa046
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