Yasin Dutton makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the juristic activity in early Islam. His book produces a systematic and thorough study of the methodologies and legal techniques of Malik's Muwatta⊃, and in so doing, it sheds important light on the origins of Islamic law. Dutton carefully documents Malik's reliance on the Qur⊃an and the ⊂amal (practice) of the people of Medina in formulating early Islamic legal doctrines. In this context, Dutton challenges much of Western scholarship, which tended to minimize the role of the Qur⊃an and the Prophetic sunna in the development of early Islamic jurisprudence. The Qur⊃an, sunna, and ⊂amal, Dutton argues, formed integral components of early Medinian juristic discourses. Importantly, Dutton calls for a more sophisticated understanding of the concept of ⊂amal. He distinguishes between sunna and ⊂amal and between sunna and hadith. Sunna, Dutton contends, consists of the collective inherited precedent of the Prophet. In many ways, it is the Qur⊃anic precedent as well as the interpretations and ijtih―ad of the Prophet as remembered, in a general sense, by the early Muslim community. ⊂Amal, on the other hand, is the Qur⊃an and sunna in action as well as the interpretations and ijtih―ad of the companions, successors, and successors of the successors. Therefore, in a sense, Dutton argues that all ⊂amal includes the sunna, but not all sunna includes ⊂amal.
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