232 Words Essay on the Disintegration of the Islamic Legal System


There are a number of opinions on the conditions of the present day Islamic legal system but I think Abou El Fadl sums it up poignantly when he wrote, “There are a variety of reasons for the disintegration of the traditional dynamics of Islamic jurisprudence.

Primary among those reasons is the increasing centralization of state power, the nationalization of the private endowments (atuqaj) that supported and funded the law guilds, the withering away of law guilds and their replacement with state-owned secular law schools, the adoption of the civil law system into a large number of Muslim countries.

The development of enormous hegemonic state bureaucracies that co-opted and transformed many jurists into salaried employees, and the experience of colonialism that often methodically dismantled the traditional institutions of Islamic law under the guise of the imperative of modernization.”


He goes on to add something of great importance noting, “It is difficult to assess whether this process started with the centralized structure of the Ottoman Empire, or the increasing reliance on qunun (secular positive law) and fireman’s (edicts) as the main legislative mechanism of the Ottoman rulers.

But there is no doubt that the movement to dismantle the traditional mechanisms of Islamic law were given a great momentum in the age of colonialism and in the post-colonial age with the emergence of what Amos Perl mutter called the praetorian state in many Muslim countries.”

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