A path to the Oasis: Sharī‘ah and reason in Islamic moral epistemology

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 62 (3):135-148 (2007)
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I propose a framework for comparative Islamic—Western ethics in which the Islamic categories "Islam, Iman," and "Ihsan" are juxtaposed with the concepts of obligation, value, and virtue, respectively. I argue that "shari'a" refers to both the obligation component and the entire structure of the Islamic ethic; suggesting a suspension of the understanding of "shari'a" as simply Islamic "law," and an alternative understanding of "usul al-fiqh" as a moral epistemology of obligation. I will test this approach by addressing the question of reason in Islamic moral epistemology via an examination of an argument advanced by a founding usul scholar Muhammad bin Idrīs al-Shāfi'ī.



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