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Title: Sharī‘a under the English legal system in British India : Awqāf (endowments) in the making of Anglo-Muhammadan law
Author: Abbasi, Muhammad Zubair
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This study analyses the treatment of Islamic law (Fiqh) under the English legal system by looking into the developments in waqf law in British India. It has the dual objective of analysing the impact of the English legal system upon Islamic law, and determining the role of various actors in this process. It argues that waqf law was transformed in order to fit into the state structure. The colonial state used the techniques of translation, adjudication, legislation and teaching in order to transform Islamic law. Adjudication was preferred over legislative codification as a mode of governance and rule making because of its flexibility. The translation of classical Islamic legal texts, the Hidāya and certain parts of the Fatāwā al-‘Ālamgīriyya, relieved English judges of the need for a reliance on local legal advisors. However, Muslim lawyers, judges, legal commentators, and some religious scholars (‘ulamā’) simultaneously collaborated and negotiated with, and resisted colonial administrators in the process of legal transformation. As adjudication was a preferred mode of transformation, legal commentaries played a crucial role in legal developments. A majority of legal commentators were Muslims, such as Ameer Ali, Abdur Rahim and Faiz Tyabji. They used their legal treatises to resist any colonial intervention in Islamic law. Although English educated Muslims replaced ‘ulamā’ as cultural intermediaries between the state and society, this did not eliminate the role of ‘ulamā’ as the custodians of Islamic law. They established closer links with society and issued fatāwā (legal opinions) on legal issues. Fatāwā were sought regarding every important aspect of waqf law, from the validity of family awqāf to the management of awqāf and the permissibility of awqāf of movables such as shares of companies. ‘Ulamā’ also lobbied for the enforcement of Islamic law in order to promote women’s rights of inheritance and to get a divorce. This study finds that Anglo-Muhammadan law was a product of interaction between various sections of Muslim society and colonial administrators. It reflected the socio-political context of colonial India and the process of negotiations between divergent interest holders. Despite replacing the traditional institutional structure, the overall legal system became more inclusive. It could interact with various stakeholders and represent them in the process of law making in order to respond to social change.
Supervisor: Getzler, Joshua Sponsor: Higher Education Commission, Government of Pakistan
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Islam ; Comparative Law ; Property law ; waqf (endowment) ; colonial India ; English law ; Islamic law ; Anglo-Muhammadan law