Disagreements of the Jurists

Disagreements of the Jurists

A Manual of Islamic Legal Theory

256 Pages

October 2017

ISBN: 9781479808076




Al-Qadi al-Nu'man (d.
364 H/974 AD) was born in Tunisia and joined the service of the Fatimids in 313
H/925 AD, eventually rising to the position of supreme judge. As the most
important jurist and legal author of the Fatimid Empire, his work founded Isma'ili
law as a discipline.

Devin J. Stewart is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Emory University. He has written on the Qurʾan, Shiʿi Islam, and Islamic legal education.

John Coughlin is the Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law at NYU Abu Dhabi.

John Sexton is the Benjamin Butler Professor of Law at NYU and served as the 15th President of NYU from 2002 to 2015.

A masterful overview of Islamic law and its diversity

Al-Qadi al-Nu'man was the chief legal theorist and ideologue of the North African
Fatimid dynasty in the tenth century. This translation makes available for the
first time in English his major work on Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh),
which presents a legal model in
support of the Fatimid claim to legitimate rule.

Composed as part of a grand project to establish the theoretical
bases of the official Fatimid legal school, Disagreements of the Jurists
expounds a distinctly Shi'i system of hermeneutics. The work begins with a
discussion of the historical causes of jurisprudential divergence in the first
Islamic centuries and goes on to engage, point by point, with the specific
interpretive methods of Sunni legal theory. The text thus preserves important
passages from several Islamic legal theoretical works no longer extant, and in
the process throws light on a critical stage in the development of Islamic
legal theory that would otherwise be lost to history.


  • "[Disagreements of the Jurists] is very important for students of jurisprudence and for reconstructing fiqh's development."

    The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

  • "This book will be useful especially to those who are interested in the history of law andthe history of the Fatimids."