Souaiaia, Ahmed E.

Dr. Ahmed E. Souaiaia is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Iowa, where he teaches comparative Islamic law, human rights, modern religious thought in the Muslim world, ethics and morality in Islamic thought, and women in Middle Eastern and Islamic cultures. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington (Seattle), where he also taught for four years. He is the author of a number of books, journal articles, and essays.

Function of Orality in Islamic Law and Practices
2006 0-7734-5567-1
Through the examination of primary and secondary literature, this work establishes that Islamic law is a corpus of accretive ascription fundamentally informed by authoritative precedents and practically preserved in the adaptive oral discourse. In a first phase, Islamic law developed in the exclusivity of the oral environment that characterized the Qur’anic, Hadathic, and Hermeneutic discourses. It is argued that for more than a century of the life of the emerging Muslim community, these three discourses were exclusively preserved and transmitted orally. In a second phase (2nd to 4th Islamic centuries), the dialectic and casuistic nature of disciplines as provided Muslim religious authorities with the priviledged oral declarations that enabled and empowered their decrees and opinions. Finally, once the theological and legal schools of thought emerged (5th to 21st centuries), orality became even more prominent in delineating the boundaries between that which is in conformity with Islamic legal rules and that which is not. The transformed legal tradition, while aspiring to keep the connection between the past (Qur’an and Sunnah) and present has remained dependant on orality which ascertained the preservation of the singularly specific and characteristics traits of each school of thought.