Gideon Libson's highly original work on custom is the first attempt to present a comprehensive comparative study of Jewish-Islamic law on a particular topic during the early Middle Ages. His in-depth study of Islamic law—its sources, legal schools, and extensive legal literature—together with his expertise in the wide range of geonic and rabbinic literature enable him to determine the influence of Muslim practice on geonic custom.
In both systems of law the growth of custom was a reaction to the general culture. He shows conclusively how custom in both systems of law served as a conduit for the absorption of changes, thus helping to bridge the gap between the authoritative legal systems and the practical realities of the environment. Libson's contribution to the study of comparative Jewish and Islamic law during the geonic period will be of value to scholars engaged in the study of comparative law.
This book marks an auspicious beginning for Harvard's series in Islamic Law. Jewish and Islamic Law breaks new ground on several fronts and points the way toward important lines of research in comparative study of religious law...[Libson's] attention to methodology, social context and detailed examples assures that his book will remain an essential resource for many years to come.
Jewish-Islamic comparative law is a relatively underdeveloped field...What few studies there are have tended to restrict themselves to determining Jewish antecedents for Islam, and even those normally focus on ritual, not law. Libson's study of the use of custom by the geonim and its connection to Islamic law is a novel and welcome corrective. This excellent study shows that the relationship between Jewish law and the Islamic law is much more complex than is normally assumed. Libson's familiarity with the ancient texts and current scholarship of both Jewish law and Islamic law is truly remarkable.
This remarkable collection of studies is a pioneering contribution to the study of Jewish and Islamic law in the period, and it is hard to imagine serious future work in these fields that will not refer to this volume.
- 380 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School
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