On Islamic Law


Josef Kohler (1849–1919) was a German jurist noted for his contribution to the philosophy of law and the advancement of the study of the comparative history of law. He was born in Offenburg, Baden, and educated at the universities of Freiburg and Heidelberg. Kohler was a judge in Mannheim and a law professor at the University of Berlin. This booklet, entitled Zum Islamrecht (On Islamic law), is a commentary by Kohler on Muhammedanisches Recht nach schafiitischer Lehre (Muhammedan law according to the Shafi’i school), a translation from Arabic of seven chapters of “the well-known, short work by Abu Shujaʻ (which consists of 16 chapters).” This is almost certainly a reference to Al-ghayatu wa al-taqrib (The ultimate conspectus), a compendium of Shafi’i jurisprudence by Abu Shujaʻ al-Isfahani (born circa 1042). The German translation of Abu Shujaʻ was done by Orientalist Carl Eduard Sachau (1845–1930), who taught with Kohler at the University of Berlin. Sachau’s translation also included a supercommentary on Abu Shujaʻ by Imam Ibrahim al-Bayjuri (also seen as al-Bajuri, circa 1784–1860), another Shafi’i jurist who was the head of the Cairo-based al-Azhar, Egypt's oldest degree-granting university. Kohler’s commentary is divided into 14 articles of varying lengths, covering chapters (called books in the Arabic original) on matrimony, the emancipation of slaves, inheritance law, property law, code of obligations, trial and court procedures, and criminal law.

Last updated: September 27, 2016