Disagreements of the Jurists

A Manual of Islamic Legal Theory

256 pages

October, 2017

ISBN: 9781479808076



Add to Cart Available: 9/1/2017

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Al-Qadi al-Nu'man (d. 364 H/974 AD) was born in Tunisia and joined the service of the Fatimids in 313 H/925 AD, eventually rising to the position of supreme judge. As the most important jurist and legal author of the Fatimid Empire, his work founded Isma'ili law as a discipline.

All books by al-Qadi al-Nu'man

Devin J. Stewart is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Emory University. He has written on the Qurʾan, Shiʿi Islam, and Islamic legal education.

All books by Devin Stewart

John Coughlin is the Global Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Law at NYU Abu Dhabi.

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John Sexton is the Benjamin Butler Professor of Law at NYU and served as the 15th President of NYU from 2002 to 2015.

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A masterful overview of Islamic law and its diversity

Al-Qadi al-Nu'man was the chief legal theorist and ideologue of the North African Fatimid dynasty in the tenth century. This translation makes available for the first time in English his major work on Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh), which presents a legal model in support of the Fatimid claim to legitimate rule.

Composed as part of a grand project to establish the theoretical bases of the official Fatimid legal school, Disagreements of the Jurists expounds a distinctly Shi'i system of hermeneutics. The work begins with a discussion of the historical causes of jurisprudential divergence in the first Islamic centuries and goes on to engage, point by point, with the specific interpretive methods of Sunni legal theory. The text thus preserves important passages from several Islamic legal theoretical works no longer extant, and in the process throws light on a critical stage in the development of Islamic legal theory that would otherwise be lost to history.


  • “This book will be useful especially to those who are interested in the history of law and…the history of the Fatimids.”


  • "[Disagreements of the Jurists] is very important for students of jurisprudence and for reconstructing fiqh's development.

    The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

  • "Stewart has rendered al-Nu'man’s work into intelligible and elegant English, in keeping with the goals of the Library of Arabic Literature series to open up certain valuable and influential works in the Arabic tradition to a wider reading public."

    Journal of the American Oriental Society