Muhammad al-Mawardi: “On Qadis”

(ca. 1045–1058)

Context

Islamic jurisprudence encompasses the study and interpretation of Islamic law. Muslims may seek information regarding the rules and regulations of Islam from a number of sources. Chief among them is the Qur’an (the sacred scripture of Islam). Muslims believe that the Qur’an, from an Arabic word that means “the recitation,” is the literal word of Allah. It was revealed to the prophet Muhammad by the archangel Jibrail (Gabriel) beginning in 610 until his death. The Qur’an consists of 114 suras, or chapters, and totals just over 6,200 ayat, or verses. While Western translations of the Qur’an number the suras, Muslims refer to them by name, such as “The Adoration.”

Also crucial to Islamic jurisprudence are the Hadith, the collected sayings and deeds of the prophet Muhammad and their interpretations. These sayings were written down by Muhammad’s followers. Early on, Muhammad forbade his followers to write down his sayings because he was afraid that they might be confused...