Islamic and Jewish legal traditions

Authored by: Judith Frishman , Umar Ryad

The Routledge Handbook of Muslim–Jewish Relations

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415645164
eBook ISBN: 9781315675787
Adobe ISBN: 9781317383215


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Law is central to both Judaism and Islam and, “in the view of Islam and Judaism, it is through the conduct of everyday life under the aspect of the law of God that the faithful serve God. Both systems of religion and law concur, for example, that the market place, the bedroom […] all form arenas where God’s will is meant to govern.” 1 Non-priestly individuals – the rabbis in Judaism and the ulama in Sunni Islam – play an important role in interpreting the laws but, until today, there was never one formal central ecclesiastic institution that exercised strictly binding authority over all Jews or Muslims. Islamic and Jewish legal schools developed various doctrines and methods for deducing rulings in accordance with the needs of the age until modern times. 2 In many cases, Jewish and Islamic laws address the same topics, are developed through similar methods, and are compiled in similar fashion. Scholars have long pointed to similarities and interactions between Jewish and Islamic law throughout history. Their research attempts to connect and compare the religious-legal texts of both religions as well as the cultural, social, political, and economic mechanisms that led to their genesis. However, when comparing both legal systems it is not plausible to claim that one of the two, either Judaism or Islam, has served to define the norm for the other. 3

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