Reviews

In some 2,000 words Prof. Merlin Swartz sketches the history of the Hanafi school of law.  He devotes about the first third of the article to brief characterisations of the three early shaykhs Abu Hanifa (d. 150/767), Abu Yusuf (d. 182/798), and Muhammad al-Shaybani (d. 189/804-5).  Reports of their opinions formed the literary basis of the school.  Swartz goes on to describe how the school lays peculiar stress on qiyas ('analogy'), although admitting that it is mainly distinguished by its particular rules, too nebulous a subject to survey in such a short article as this.  He then reviews its theological associations first with Murji‘ism, then Maturidism, the flourishing of the school under Turkic auspices, and the most important handbooks and commentaries of the high medieval school.  At the end is a bibliography of 21 works running to the early 1990s.  The early history of Islamic law was considerably unsettled by the appearance of Norman Calder’s Studies in Early Muslim Jurisprudence (Oxford, 1993), which re-ascribes the works of Malik (d. 179/795), Shaybani, and al-Shafi‘i (d. 204/820) to followers writing in their names.  The present writer expects future research to confirm that the books attributed to Shaybani include at least as much extrapolation from his remembered doctrine as actual quotation.  Another question for future research is why Hanafi books of both usul (jurisprudence) and furu‘ (actual rules) tend to follow one style, while Maliki, Shafi‘i, and Hanbali follow another.

Christopher Melchert, Oriental Institute, Oxford
CER: I-5.3.A-428