The History of an Islamic School of Law: The Early Spread of Hanafism

TitleThe History of an Islamic School of Law: The Early Spread of Hanafism
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsTsafrir N
Series TitleHarvard Series in Islamic Law
Series Volume3
PublisherIslamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School
CityCambridge, MA

The Hanafi school of law is one of the oldest legal schools of Islam, coming into existence in the eighth century in Iraq, and surviving up to the present. So closely is the early development of the Hanafi school interwoven with non-legal spheres, such as the political, social, and theological, that the study of it is essential to a proper understanding of medieval Islamic history. Using rich material drawn mainly from medieval Islamic biographical dictionaries, Nurit Tsafrir offers a thorough examination of the first century and a half of the school’s existence, the period during which it took shape. She provides a detailed account of the process by which the school attracted ever more followers and spread over vast geographical areas in the Islamic world empire.


Tsafrir’s scholarship is admirable… Each chapter on a region of the Islamic world concludes with a list of qadis… It seems unlikely that anyone will substantially improve on Tsafrir’s lists.—Christopher Melchert, Journal of Near Eastern Studies