chapter  5
17 Pages

Social Change and the Potential for Flexibility in the Islamic Notion of Law: The Shari'a as an "Open Texture," Legal Hermeneutics, and the Topics Thesis

WithBassam Tibi

Some legal scholars attribute a universal character to law, without being aware that they take the term law to mean a tradition that has evolved within Europe and which predominates in that hemisphere only. An international society without a legal basis, however, would be not only a social entity without peace, it would be characterized by a state of barbarism and brute force. This realization motivates the search for common platforms for culturally differentiated notions of law in the sense of establishing an international, legally anchored consensus. It is precisely this aimed-for plurality amid consensus of mutually communicating cultures, that constitutes the perceptual interest of the following remarks on Islamic law. The Islamic law derived from this truth claims to embrace all spheres of life and is theocentric in the sense that in its capacity as revelation it merely serves as an instrument whereby God governs the world and not as a means for people to regulate their social interaction.