IS THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS? Tension Between Minimalism and Comprehensiveness in the Shariah
The comprehensiveness of Islamic law has been questioned seriously in
the modern period by Muslim reformists like Rashīd Riḍā . Such reformists
have used as evidence Qur’anic verses and Prophetic reports that
seem to state clearly that the strictures of Islamic law are few and
limited and that Muslims should not extend them to all areas of life. How
could the Shariah have developed as a holistic and exhaustive body of
law in light of such evidence? Looking back at earlier Muslim scholars
from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries, however, we see that these
Qur’anic verses and Prophetic edicts were never understood in this way.
They were either diffused with various hermeneutic strategies or understood
as applying to debates unrelated to the comprehensiveness or
minimalism of the Shariah.