Guy BurakThe Second Formation of Islamic Law: The Hanafi School in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire

Cambridge University Press, 2015

by Matt Long on September 23, 2015

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The Second Formation of Islamic Law: The Hanafi School in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge UP, 2015) is a new contribution to the study of Islam and more specifically to the history of Islamic Law and its development. Guy Burak, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies librarian at New York University, explores the Ottomans' adoption of one branch of the Hanafi legal tradition as the official school (madhhab) of the dynasty. The period of time in which this process occurred was during the 15th to 18th centuries, and Burak focuses on the lands of Greater Syria. What Burak seeks to illustrate is that through the adoption of an official school of law, the Ottoman hierarchy played a significant role in how the school of law was shaped. Examples Burak provides to demonstrate this phenomenon are the institutionalization of the position of mufti, the formalization of genealogical literature (tabaqat), and the canonization process of books essential to the school. In addition to examining the propagators of official Ottoman positions, Burak also examines how scholars not part of the Ottoman mainstream branch functioned and responded to these changes. Overall, this work represents and important contribution to the study of Islam, the history of Islamic Law, and Ottoman Studies.

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