Samy Ayoub, "Law, Empire, and the Sultan: Ottoman Imperial Authority and Late Hanafi Jurisprudence" (Oxford UP, 2020)


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In his majestic and magisterial new book Law, Empire, and the Sultan: Ottoman Imperial Authority and Late Hanafi Jurisprudence (Oxford UP, 2020), Samy Ayoub examines and demonstrates the entanglement of Islamic law and imperial political authority in the early modern period. Focused on the incorporation of Ottoman imperial authority and edicts in the late Hanafi jurisprudential tradition, this brilliant book interrupts and questions widely held assumptions about the separation between the domains of imperial politics and the Islamic legal tradition in the premodern period. The strength of this book lies in the way it provides a meticulous and dazzling intellectual history of the Hanafi legal tradition showing its internal dynamism and nuanced forms of reasoning while constantly connecting that intellectual history to broader theoretical questions about the interaction of law, juridical authority, and empire. Combining philological rigor with razor sharp conceptual dexterity, this book fundamentally reorients our understanding of the relationship between law and politics in Islamic thought and history. This lucidly written book, populated by a series of helpful tables and charts, will also be a delight to teach in advanced undergraduate and graduate seminars on a range of topics.

SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at Listener feedback is most welcome.

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