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Digital Proceedings of the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age

Article Title

Early Islamic Legal Manuscripts: What we know; what we may yet discover

Abstract

Forty years ago, Fuat Sezgin completed what is still our only survey of early Islamic legal manuscripts (in the first volume of his Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums). Since that time, Joseph Schacht drew the attention of the scholarly community to important collections of manuscripts in Fez, Kairouan, and Tunis, and Miklos Muranyi has published a series of articles and books probing the riches of these collections. But much more work remains to be done. The Kairouan collection is of particular importance. Virtually uncatalogued, this collection contains some of the oldest legal manuscripts in Arabic, including fragments datable to the early ninth century CE. In this paper, I will review the accomplishments of scholars thus far and suggest some of the ways that further study of these manuscripts can increase our understanding of the development, practice, and study of early Islamic law.

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