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The Legal Thought of Jalal al-Din al-SuyutiAuthority and Legacy$
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Rebecca Hernandez

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805939

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805939.001.0001

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Authority by Aggregation and Abstraction

Authority by Aggregation and Abstraction

The Pragmatics of Communication in al-Suyūṭī’s Book on Legal Precepts

(p.137) 4 Authority by Aggregation and Abstraction
The Legal Thought of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti

Rebecca Skreslet Hernandez

Oxford University Press

In addition to his views on ijtihād and tajdīd, al-Suyūṭī’s lasting influence in Islamic legal thought lies in the area of legal precepts (pithy maxims or questions that sum up areas of the law). Al-Suyūṭī’s al-Ashbāh wa-l-naẓāʾir stands as a core work in this genre of legal literature and is still a popular textbook for students at Egypt’s premier institution of religious learning, al-Azhar. Using the pragmatic theory of Grice and others, I argue that legal precepts fulfill a number of key discursive functions for the jurist. It is with al-Suyūṭī’s Ashbāh that he is most successful in asserting his authority as an aggregator, abstractor, and framer of the law. The power of framing lies in the ability to distill key universal principles from the vast corpus of Islamic substantive law and to assert that these principles represent the essence and spirit of the Sharīʿa.

Keywords:   legal precepts, maxims, substantive law, qāḍī, pragmatics, Grice, implicature

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