Constancy and dynamism: The fiqh of time and place

These 2 modules give students a deep appreciation of the underlying principles that have given Islam both its historic stability, as well as the requisite dynamism to face up to the challenges of the age. In the first, the principles of Islamic jurisprudence, together with the higher objectives of the law will be explored, with the aim of laying down the ground rules for ethical and principled thinking in areas of contemporary concern. The second of these modules focuses on real and pressing legal and ethical questions facing Muslims in the West, through the use of case studies. These case studies on modern issues explore how timeless principles are utilised and appropriated to address the major legal and ethical dilemmas of the day.

Shariah 1 Swl 301-i

Living the law 1

“One of the most pertinent qualities of one seeking to fathom the Maqasid al-Shariah (the higher intent of the law) is to be able to distinguish between the varying intents of the words and actions of the Prophet . The Prophet  had many roles that act as references in understanding the statements and acts that ensued from him. Therefore scholars seeking to fathom the area of Maqasid al-Shariah need to be able to clearly distinguish these statements and acts in relation to the role from which they were said” [Ibn ‘Ashur, al-Maqasid]

Entitled ‘Understanding the theory behind Islamic law in the modern age’, this module aims to give students a greater appreciation of the theoretical and practical dynamics involved in understanding Shari'ah law in the modern world. This will be done by observing the sources used in formulating authentic Islamic responses to contemporary issues.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored.

  • The complexity involved in living in accordance with the Shari'ah in the modern world.
  • Understanding the underlying theory through which these issues are discussed by scholars.
  • What is meant by al-Nazilah (a new legal occurrence), and how does this relate to the changing dynamics of human life?
  • How have contemporary Muslim scholars sought to face up to the challenges posed by modern life, and what are fatwa councils?
  • How does understanding the intent of the Sunnah affect the application of Islamic law?
  • What types of public interests are taken into consideration in law, and what types are not?
  • Does Islam recognise local customs, and if so, which ones?
  • What values did Islamic law come to protect and preserve?
  • The practical use of legal maxims as rules of thumb.


By the end of this module, students will:

  • Be confident in discussing how Islamic law is derived in a modern context.
  • Appreciate the complexity of the ethical issues facing mankind, and what our faith has to say about them.
  • Understand how the Shari'ah seeks to promote common values agreed upon by all civilised people. 
  • Be equipped with a legal ‘first aid kit’ to use in your day-to-day life.

Shariah 1 Swl 401-i

Living the law 2

“...One cannot construe the hadith to mean this. Rather it may well be that it constitutes the honoring of the deceased through the preservation of one of their organs so that a living person may benefit from it.”[Sh.Ibrahim al-Yaqubi, Shifa al-Tabarih].

Building on what has been learned in previous modules, this module gives students a behind-the- scenes insight into how scholars look at new issues. These case studies on modern issues explore how timeless principles are used and appropriated to address the major legal and ethical dilemmas of the day.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored.

  • How do scholars discuss issues such as organ donations and euthanasia?
  • In an age of nuclear weapons, does Islam have a ‘just war’ theory?
  • What effect does intensive animal rearing have on our meat supplies, and are they even Halal?
  • How Islamic is ‘Islamic finance’?

These are just some of the detailed case studies and ethical questions facing Muslims in the West that are covered.

By the end of this module, students will:

Engage in discussion and informed debate on the burning moral and ethical issues of the day.
Be able to navigate complex issues through the lens of principled thinking.
Appreciate the benefit of scholarly differences of opinion.
Help others to better understand issues of debate in the community.