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Contemporary Ijtihad

Limits and Controversies

L. Ali Khan, Hisham M. Ramadan

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Examines the usefulness, challenges and limits of ijtihad for Muslims today

This book explores the limits and controversies of ijtihad in the context of the diverse needs of Muslim cultures and communities living in Muslim and non-Muslim nations and continents including Europe and North America.

Ijihad is the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources. The resurgence of Islam, geopolitical crises involving Muslim nations, violence associated with Islam and the immigration of millions of Muslims to Western countries have impressed upon Muslims the need to rethink classical jurisprudence. As a result, ;a powerful contemporary ijtihad has unleashed a tremendous intellectual energy that is transforming legal systems across the Muslim world.

Key Features

  • Explains diverse bodies of Islamic law including fiqh, qanun and siyar
  • Supplements Arabic terms from the Basic Code with English substitutes
  • Analyses the forces shaping contemporary ijtihad
  • Presents a jurisprudential guide suitable for jurists, judges, national legislatures, and teachers and students and law and Islamic studies


1. Classical Era of Ijtihad (632-875)
2. Free Markets of Fiqh
3. Islamic Positive Law
4. Islamic Constitutionalism
5. Covenants with Non-Muslims
6. Western Views of Islamic Law
7. Muslim Diaspora Law

About the Author

L. Ali Khan is Professor of Law at Washburn University, Kansas.

Hisham M. Ramadan obtained his Doctor of Juridical Sciences degree from University of Wisconsin School of Law in 2003, having previously studied at SUNY (Buffalo), The University of Auckland, and Ain Shams University, Cairo. In addition to his academic appointments, he has also served on the UNHCR and has published numerous books and articles. Hisham M. Ramadan is Professor of Criminology at Kwantlen University, Vancouver.


An interesting study which offers a bird's eye view on the role of ijtihad in the Islamic legal system.

- Muslim World Book Review