GLOSSARY OF ISLAMIC LEGAL TERMS

adat                             Indonesian customary law

 

ahkam                         legal rules, judgments (sg. hukm)

 

ahwal shakhsiyya        laws of personal status

 

‘amal                           judicial practice

 

aya                              a Qur'anic verse

 

‘ayn                             a tangible thing, equivalent to Latin res

 

bay‘                             sale; a bay‘ mu'ajjal is a credit sale, a bay‘ salam a forward sale, whereby payment is made at time of contract and item is delivered at later, specified date; bay‘ al-‘urbun is a sale with option of down payment

 

bid‘a                            innovation; a belief or practice for which there was no precedent in the Prophet's time

 

daman                         civil liability; in suretyship, contract of guarantee

 

dayn                            generic property; debt

 

diya                             a specified amount of money or goods due in cases of homicide or other injuries to physical health unjustly committed upon the person of another; it is the substitute for the law of private vengeance, qisas

 

faqih                            a specialist in religious law; a jurist (pl. fuqaha')

 

faskh                           the dissolution of a contractual bond; annulment of a marriage open to the wife or her relatives, adjudicated by a third party

 

fatwa                           an opinion by a religious-legal scholar, mufti, on a point of law

 

fiqh                              lit. understanding; the corpus of the Islamic jurists' doctrines, or Islamic substantive law

 

fuqaha'                        see faqih

 

furu‘                            lit. branches; the body of positive rules of law, derived from the sources of legal knowledge, the usul al-fiqh

 

gharar                         risk, uncertainty

 

hadd                            see hudud

 

hadith                          an account of what the Prophet said or did, or of his tacit approval of something said or done in his presence (pl. ahadith); the corpus of Tradition that is the Sunna

 

halal                            lawful, permitted, permissable

 

haram                          prohibited, forbidden, illicit

 

hudud                          certain major crimes defined in the Qur'an and assigned specific punishments (sg. hadd)

 

hukm                           see ahkam

 

‘ibadat                         ritual practices, acts of worship

 

‘idda                            the woman's waiting period of three menses, during which there is sexual abstinence, after a divorce or death of the husband

 

ijara                            contract of lease and hire

 

ijma‘                            consensus, the unanimous doctrine and opinion of the recognized authorities at any given time; the third of the sources of legal knowledge, the first two being the Qur'an and Sunna

 

ijtihad                          the use of independent reasoning to advance a legal opinion in cases where the Qur'an and Sunna are not definitive; its opposite is taqlid

 

ikhtilaf                         difference of opinion among the authorities of law

 

‘illa                              cause; raison d'être

 

istisna‘                         a contract providing for manufacture and purchase of specified item

 

kafala                          an institution corresponding to the surety bond

 

kaffara                        Qur'anic term for an expiatory and propitiatory act that grants remission for faults of some gravity

 

khul‘                            a divorce by the wife, with permission by the husband, whereby the wife forfeits maintenance and dower still owed to her, and pays back the dower paid upon marriage

 

madhhab                     legal doctrine, the Islamic school of law

 

mahr                            a dower or gift given to the wife by the husband upon marriage, also known as sadaq

 

mal                              property

 

maslaha                       the concept of “public interest” or “the general good” that is used as a basis of legal decisions

 

mudaraba                    limited partnership, also known as qirad, whereby some partners contribute capital and others labor

 

mufti                            a religious-legal scholar qualified to issue an authoritative legal opinion, or fatwa

 

mujtahid                      one who practices independent reasoning, or ijtihad

 

mulla                           a religious scholar

 

murabaha                    sale at a percentage mark-up

 

musharaka                  partnership or company

 

nikah                           marriage (properly, sexual intercourse)

 

qabd                            possession; taking possession of

 

qadhf                           a slanderous accusation of unlawful fornication, zina, or of illegitimate descent (which amounts to accusing the mother of zina)

 

qadi                             a judge

 

qat' al-tariq                 highway robbery, or robbery with violence, which in certain circumstances is punishable by death

 

qisas                            see diya

 

qiyas                            analogical reasoning; the fourth source of legal knowledge, following Qur'an, Sunna, and consensus (ijma‘)

 

rahn                             a pledge, collateral

 

ra'y                              personal opinion, or human reasoning, used to arrive at a legal decision

 

riba                              interest, unjust enrichment, usury

 

ridda                            apostasy, the act of turning away from Islam

 

sadaq                           see mahr

 

sariqa                          theft, for which the Qur'an prescribes cutting off the right hand.

 

Shari‘a                         the divine, revealed law

 

shart                            a condition, term, stipulation (in a contract)

 

Shi‘a                            a sect of Islam, contrasting with the orthodox Sunnis, comprising approx 10% of the Muslim population. Shi‘is differ from Sunnis in that they hold that leadership of the community pertains to the direct descendants of the caliph ‘Ali and his wife Fatima, the Prophet's daughter

 

shura                           consultation; consultative assembly

 

shurb al-khamr           the drinking of wine, or other intoxicants

 

siyar                            field of law concerned with the rules of war and of dealings of non-Muslims, apostates, and rebels; international law

 

siyasa                          policy, governance, administration

 

 

Sunna                           the normative example of the Prophet; the corpus of reports known as hadiths

 

Sunni                            the major sect of Muslims, those holding that leadership of the Muslim community is not restricted to the direct descendants of the Prophet

 

sura                             a Qur'anic chapter

 

tafsir                            exegetic interpretation; commentary on the Qur'an

 

talaq                            (unilateral) divorce by the husband, repudiation

 

taqlid                           the acceptance of recognized authoritative opinion or doctrine, the opposite of independent reasoning, or ijtihad

 

tawhid                         the belief in one God

 

ta‘zir                            discretionary punishment meted out by a judge in cases not covered by hudud penalties

 

‘ulama', ulema religious-legal scholars (sg. ‘alim)

 

usul                              lit. roots (sg. ‘asl), the sources of law, viz. the Qur'an, the Sunna, consensus, and analogical reasoning, as opposed to furu‘; short form for usul al-fiqh (works of) legal theory, methods of deriving positive law

 

wali                             a guardian, curator

 

waqf                            a domain constituted into a pious endowment, charitable trust

 

wilaya                          guardianship over a minor; authority of a father or relative in marriage of his ward

 

zakat                           obligatory alms, a tax on both landed and moveable property, one of the five pillars of Islam, the others being the confession of faith, prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage

 

zina                              unlawful fornication, punishable by penal law if the partners are not married to each other or united by the bond of ownership

 

 

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