The Minor Compendium of Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam (d. 214/829) and its reception in the early Mālikī school

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Abstract

Ibn (Abd al-Hakam's Minor Compendium may be the earliest known handbook of Islamic law. Remarkably compact and comprehensive, it challenges depictions of the pre-classical period as a time of unsystematic legal scholarship, consisting of only "organic" texts and student notebooks. In this article, I argue for an early date for this text, based on analysis of the manuscript witnesses. I then compare the Minor Compendium with several contemporary texts to highlight its unique characteristics; in the process I discover, and seek to explain, several discrepancies in the descriptions of this text that are found in the biographical dictionaries. In my reading, the Minor Compendium is part of a nascent Mālikī tradition and demonstrates a close affinity to Mālik's Muwatta'. Yet it is also a highly creative and independent work, and its method of making legal arguments is quite different than that found in the Muwatta' and other early legal texts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-181
Number of pages33
JournalIslamic Law and Society
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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