Reception of European Law, Origins and Islamic Legal Revivalism, and Transformations in Islamic Jurisprudence

Thesis Type:

PhD dissertation


This dissertation examines the reception of European law in Egypt, the origins of Egyptian movements to revive Islamic law, and foundations of transformations in Egyptian-Islamic legal thought between 1875 and 1960. The dissertation has two principal arguments. First, it maintains that an understanding of present-day Islamic law, both theoretical and applied, requires an understanding of developments that occurred in Egyptian legal thought and education between 1875 and 1960. Second, the dissertation demonstrates how the reception of European law in Egypt impacted the country's intellectual culture, its legal-educational institutions, the alignment patterns of its law scholars, and Islamic legal thought between 1875 and 1960. Although the influence of European law and legal thought only partially explains the transformations that took place in Islamic law and legal thought in Egypt, the dissertation argues nonetheless that European influence laid foundations for certain transformations that occurred. Section 1 narrates the evolution of the popular Egyptian desire to revive Islamic law in the face of European legal reception. Section 2 argues that scholars in Europe created fields of knowledge that influenced Egyptian scholars' approaches to secular and Islamic law. Section 3 narrates the intellectual and curricular history of Egypt's law faculties. The section focuses on the Cairo University Law Faculty. Section 4 examines a transformational treatise in Islamic obligations and contract doctrine, Chafik Chehata's Essai d'une théorie générale de l'obligation en droit musulman (1936). The treatise is analyzed as an example of how European ideas inspired the formation of "general theory" writing in Egyptian-Islamic legal thought.

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