The Logic of Law Making in Islam: Women and Prayer in the Legal Tradition

Publication Year



This pioneering study examines the process of reasoning in Islamic law. Some of the key questions addressed here include whether sacred law operates differently from secular law, why laws change or stay the same, and how different cultural and historical settings impact the development of legal rulings. In order to explore these questions, the author examines the decisions of thirty jurists from the largest legal tradition in Islam: the Hanafi school of law. He traces their rulings on the question of women and communal prayer across a very broad period of time – from the eighth to the eighteenth century – to demonstrate how jurists interpreted the law and reconciled their decisions with the scripture and the sayings of the Prophet. The result is a fascinating overview of how Islamic law has evolved and the thinking behind individual rulings.

  • A groundbreaking analysis of Islamic law, addressing how rulings were made and the reasons behind their composition across ten centuries
  • Taken from rulings by jurists of the Hanafi school, the book analyses the origins and development of laws on women and communal prayer
  • For students of Islamic law, religious studies, Middle East history

Table of Contents

1. A general model
2. Preliminaries
3. Women praying with men: adjacency
4. Women praying with women
5. Women praying with men: communal prayers
6. The historical development of Hanafi reasoning
7. From laws and values
8. The logic of law making.


“Sadeghi’s work is significant. His detailed analysis of a focused set of legal debates is illuminating in its own right, and his sophisticated discussion of the nature of legal change and justification should make the work a touchstone for any future thinking about this issue. Sadeghi’s overall conclusion - that the business of the typical pre-modern Muslim jurist was focused not on the canon but on the precedent embodied in his school’s doctrine - is certainly true and important, but his elucidation of the logic of change internal to Islamic legal discourse is even more interesting and original.”
Ahmed El Shamsy, Marginalia

Series Title
Cambridge studies in Islamic civilization
Cambridge University Press