The world has changed more in the last two hundred years than it has in the previous two thousand. Worldliness has grown and shouldered aside religion. Scholars of every religion have been fighting a rearguard battle in the face of modernity and forging a role for religion in the age of reason.
Every religion has succumbed to the pressures of modernity and turned into something very different from what it was two hundred years ago, perhaps with the sole exception of Islam.
Publicly visible Muslim responses to the pressures of modernity have varied between compromising modernist responses and irrational extremist responses, and many shades in between, all of which are based on insufficient religious training. The real Muslim response,
though, is simply a re-statement of what our scholars have been saying for the past 1400 years, particularly what they have said in the discipline of legal methodology (usul al-fiqh).
Legal methodology (usul al-fiqh) has two parts: a theoretical part and a practical one. The practical part is what students normally associate the discipline with, namely, the rules of interpreting the primary religious sources. That is not what this course is about. This course focuses on the theoretical part of the discipline of legal methodology, which builds on theology to create a logical structure of our religion. Someone who understands this structure knows where they stand with respect to anything. Someone who doesn’t understand this structure will not know where they stand with respect to anything.
This course starts off by examining the meaning of morality and role of reason in determining divine intent. It then moves on to unpack the theoretical underpinnings of the four agreed-upon sources of Sunni Islam—the Quran, the Sunna, Ijma`, and Qiyas. Students will understand why these sources are important and how to use them. It concludes with a rigorous discussion of the concepts of ijtihad (scholarly interpretation) and taqlid (following scholarship). The course then briefly discusses sources that are differed-upon, such as companion positions, the agreement of the people of Medina, and juristic
The student will leave with a thorough understanding of how to discover what exactly Allah Most High wants of us. The student will also be prepared for the next level course in legal methodology, LMT201.