Legal traditions of the ‘Near East' The pre-Islamic context

Lena Salaymeh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Islamic law, like any other legal tradition, began as a fusion of legal traditions. This chapter focuses on the Arabian Peninsula, the proximate surrounding of the Islamic movement's beginnings. Pre-Islamic laws became Islamic and fused with new laws in a process that may be likened to a craft: the artwork of Islamic legal recycling. The chapter argues that most resemblances between pre-Islamic and Islamic legal traditions are the consequences of a shared legal culture or of equivalent historical circumstances. It offers some modest suggestions for rethinking the relationship between pre-Islamic and Islamic legal traditions. The chapter examines the relationship that reveals important patterns in ‘Near Eastern' legal culture, particularly the arrangements between law and the state. Much modern Western scholarship has been oriented towards discovering the ‘origins' of Islamic law by cataloguing which pre-Islamic legal traditions were ‘borrowed' by Islamic legal traditions. The chapter summarizes the historiographic and theoretical limitations in existing scholarship on pre-Islamic legal traditions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Islamic Law
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781317622451
ISBN (Print)9781138803176
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


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