Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARAB2015 The Shari’a: Theory, Practice, Transformations

20 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Mustapha Sheikh

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Module replaces

ARAB2280 Islamic Law: Theory and Practice

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module will introduce students to the idea of Shari’a as fundamentally a religious legal discourse, focusing on origins, historical development and permutations across differing socio-political and geographical contexts. An exploration of the relationship between the Shari’a as discourse and praxis and political power is an important aspect of this module, where students will learn about the power relations which have historically fashioned, co-opted and/or curtailed the development of the Shari’a. Several case studies, including criminal law, commercial law, alcohol and sexuality, serve as pedagogical tools to elucidate the processes underpinning Shari’a formation. Finally, the contemporary dislocation of the Shari’a and the revivalist/reformist attempts at reinstitutionalisation are examined.


The module seeks to introduce students to the Shari'a as primarily legal discourse and praxis, acquainting them with Islamic law and legal theory, and exploring the subject through an interdisciplinary approach. Students will understand the significance of the Shari’a in Muslim discourse; the power relations that have historically facilitated and/or curtailed the development of the Shari’a as law; the processes involved in formulating the law both in terms of ijtihad and fatwa; the story of the Shari’a’s transition from being state law to a mere symbol in the contemporary world. This module will also provide an opportunity to contrast theory and practical application through case studies covering a range of interests, including sexuality, alcoholic beverages, Islamic finance and more.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module students should be able to demonstrate:
- A critical understanding of the dominant trajectories through which the Shari’a as legal discourse has developed;
- Informed insight into the tools at the disposal of the interpreters of the Shari’a;
- An understanding of the relationship between the Shari'a, the State and the legal community;
- An understanding of Islamic reformism through familiarisation with earlier historical discourses and institutional transformations;
- An understanding of the Shari’a as social construct by recourse to a range of historical case-studies.

Skills outcomes
Students will gain confidence in approaching classical/medieval Islamic legal texts in English translation and accessing modern studies on the same. They will also become familiar with key Islamic legal concepts and terminology.


-The Qur'an and Sunna as sources of law
-The early jurists
-The Hanafi School
-Al-Shafi'i, hadith and the development of Usul al-fiqh
-The jurists toolkit
-The Madhhabs, taqlid and "the gates of ijtihad"
-Philosophy of Islamic Law
-Case studies including slavery, sexual ethics, alcohol and Islamic Banking and Finance

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours169.00
Total Contact hours31.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study refers to researching and writing up of essay (circa 50 hours); reading in preparation for lectures and seminar discussions (circa 80 hours); reading in preparation for presentation (circa 14 hours); watching course-related films/ listening to relevant radio programmes (circa 4 hours); undertaking all other assigned readings as suggested by tutor through the course of the module; contributing to online discussion room (15mins/week).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored using the following methods:
- Written assignments
- Seminar discussions/presentations
- Designated feedback sessions (one per semester)
- Student questionnaires
- Personal tutee appointments
- Tutor office hours

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 words70.00
Oral Presentation20 Minutes Group Presentation30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The group presentation resits will be in delivered in the presence of module tutor alone on a mutually agreed date/time.

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:10:18


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019