Law and Politics under the Abbasids
An Intellectual Portrait of al-Juwayni
Abu Ma’ali al-Juwayni (d.478/1085) lived in a politically tumultuous period. The rise of powerful dynastic families forced the Abbasid Caliph into a position of titular power, and created instability. He also witnessed intellectual upheavals living amidst great theological and legal diversity. Collectively, these experiences led him to consider questions of religious certainty and social and political continuity. He noted that if political elites are constantly changing, paralleled with shifting intellectual allegiances, what ensures the continuity of religion? He concluded that continuity of society is contingent upon knowledge and practice of the Shari’a. Here in “Law and Politics under the Abbasids”, Sohaira Siddiqui explores how scholars grappled with questions of human reason and knowledge, and how their answers to these questions often led them to challenge dominant ideas of what the Shari’a is. By doing this, she highlights the interconnections between al-Juwayni’s discussions on theology, law and politics, and the socio-political intellectual landscapes that forged them.