CANCELLED, Islamic Law

Course content

Offered jointly by the Faculties of Law and Humanities (Dept of Cross Cultural Studies) this course provides an accessible and systematic introduction to the study of Islamic law.

This course examines the nature and development of Islamic law from three distinct but related angles:

  • as dogma centred around the interpretation of authoritative texts;
  • as practice centred around the observation of the way its norms are actually observed by human beings;
  • as contingency centred around the recognition of the diverse historical, social and cultural forms it can take


The course will have a weekly lecture, centered on the overall development of law in the Muslim World, and the most relevant parts of Islamic law. The other part will be devoted to seminars where students are expected to discuss and present.

This course is aimed at graduate students in law, Islamic studies, religious studies, Middle East studies, political science, and related disciplines. There are no linguistic or disciplinary prerequisites, all material is in English,necessary terms will be explained in class and a glossary provided. Given the complexities of its historical and dogmatic genesis, the study of Islamic law can be a forbidding prospect for those setting out to enter this field. The inherent intricacies of the subject are confounded by an increasingly polarised political and scholarly debate surrounding political Islam, in which demands for religious law often take central stage.

Learning Outcome


  • Know the basic contours of the historical development of Islamic law
  • Know the main protagonists
  • Know the main difference between shari’a, ta’zir, siyasa.
  • Know the key doctrinal differences between Sunni and Shi’i law and dogma
  • Know the orthodox Legal School, their geographical distribution and historical significance
  • Know key substantive norms regarding marriage, guardianship, inheritance, and maintenance
  • Know key substantive norms regarding interest, risk, capital accumulation, and lending
  • Know key substantive norms regarding contracts, testimony, court proceeding, and evidence
  • Know major divergences between the Legal Schools
  • Know key areas of modern legal reform in family law
  • Know key characteristics of Islamic banking


  • Read translations of key doctrinal texts
  • Identify major dogmatic debates, both historical and contemporary
  • Identify ‘lines of parentage’ of key concepts and ideological positions
  • Differentiate between private and public law
  • Identify and evaluate major legal and bureaucratic institutions
  • Identify social pressures for legal change
  • Carry out independent interdisciplinary research
  • Assess the feasibility of competing ideological positions
  • Distinguish between dogmatic ideal and practical reality
  • Communicate academic findings to an interdisciplinary audience
  • Analyse the role of law in complex socio-political phenomena in current events
  • Communicate these insights effectively


  • Conduct independent interdisciplinary research
  • Critically examine the validity and reliability of dogmatic claims
  • Disaggregate complex phenomena in the Islamic world
  • Give basic legal advice on Islamic private law
  • Distinguish legal from related argumentation
  • Critically assess claims about cultural and legal immutability

Fagstudieordning Kandidattilvalg i Mellemøstens sprog og samfund, 2019

KA Religionsvidenskab, 2018

Studieordning for kandidatuddannelsen i Islamiske Studier, 2008

Learning outcome

KA tilvalg Mellemøsten 2019-studieordning
Frit valgt emne 2 (aktivitetskode HMØK13001E)

KA Islamiske Studier 2008-studieordning
Islamisk jura (aktivitetskode HISA04631E)

KA Religionsvidenskab 2018-studieordning
Frit valgt emne (aktivitetskode HRVK03131E)

Lectures and Socratic method
Structured group discussions
Case analysis of landmark decisions
Method training and application, both in general hermeneutics and (very basic) usul al-fiqh

- Wael Hallaq, Sharia. Theory, Practice, Transformations. Cambridge UP, 2009.

- Ann Black, et al., Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law, London: Edward Elgar, 2013

The course is offered to exchange-, guest students and ordinary students at the University of Copenhagen.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • English
  • 412,5