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Book: The al-Ghazali Enigma and why Shari'a is not Islamic Law

Chapter: Chapter 6: The Contents: Scripture—The Almighty and Women’s Leadership

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.27628


Chapter six continues the investigation of the case of women, turning to the role of Almighty in Muslim rule/lawmaking. It focuses on how Ghazali determined whether or not Shari’a allowed them to hold general jurisdiction over the community, wilaya. It explores how Muslims have approached contents of the Qur’an in general and how many used it to prohibit women from holding public offices or even populating public space. The discussion then considers the difficult evolution and nature of what Muslims came to regard as divinely-guided precedent, the Sunna. In the late 20th century, Ghazali found himself standing at the fork of a road that split into two conflicting traditions. One side of this road led to their scholarly legacy that preoccupied itself with the integrity of reports about these precedents that their Prophet and his community had set. The other side led to a vast landscape populated by an army of petty clerics that dispensed God’s instructions mostly by means of hadith reports and fiqh anecdotes. Forced thus, Ghazali began to ponder painful questions. The chapter charts how he turned to the scripture and historical precedent for answers; how, at the end of this intellectual journey, Ghazali concluded ‘novel’ universal Shari’a rules on gender and leadership (including in government and prayers) and, more importantly, he explained the process by which he deduced them according to Shari’a’s methodology.

Chapter Contributors

  • Haifaa Khalafallah ( - hkhalafallah) 'Sinai Centre for Islamic Mediterranean Studies'