Nativism Contra Acculturation: The Formation of the Mālikī and Ḥanafī Schools of Law
Reconstructing the formation and evolution of the four Sunni Islamic schools of law is a precarious endeavor that requires investigating distinct, yet overlapping, factors. Notwithstanding the importance of the doctrinal differences among the madhāhib, understanding the sociopolitical and economic forces that contributed to their emergence is equally instrumental. Through a reading of the sociopolitical landscape in the Islamic empire from the middle of the 2nd/8th century till the middle of the 3rd/9th, this study reveals a set of sociopolitical forces that were intrinsic to the development of law and subsequently the schools of law. Ranging from fiscal policies to civil unrest and revolutions, this dissertation explores the historical context in which the Ḥanafī and Mālikī schools developed, both of which dominated and defined the conversation in the legal space for the generations to follow. Through a chronological approach, this project identifies some of the legally extraneous yet decisive forces and events that shaped Islamic law, among which are: sociopolitical relations between Arabs and non-Arabs; the progression towards the Islamization of law; the political activism of some of the ‘ulamā’ in light of the shifts in balance of power; the role of the students of Mālik and Abū Ḥanīfah; the evolution of the type of legal authority; and state patronage and institutionalization of the two schools. Central to this discussion is the tension between acculturation and nativism, the two defining discourses that shaped Islamic identity, constantly trading places between being the discourse of power and that of resistance.
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