Baha'i Library Online

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COLLECTIONBook excerpts
TITLEDevelopment of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence, and Constitutional Theory
AUTHOR 1Duncan H. MacDonald
PUB_THISGeorge Routledge & Sons, Ltd.
ABSTRACTTwo-page excerpt with a one-sentence mention of Babism.

1. Text

[p. 4]

... in Muslim countries, Church and State are one indissolubly, and until the very essence of Islam passes away, that unity cannot be relaxed. The law of the land, too, is, in theory, the law of the Church. In the earlier days at least, canon and civil law were one. Thus we can never say in Islam, "he is a great lawyer; he, a great theologian; he, a great statesman." One man may be all three, almost he must be all three, if he is to be any one. The statesman may not practice theology or law, but his training, in great part, will be that of a theologian and a legist. The theologian-legist may not be a man of action, but he will be a court of ultimate appeal on the theory of the state. He will pass upon treaties; decide disputed. successions; assign to each his due rank and title. He will tell the Commander of the Faithful himself what he may do and what, by law, lies beyond his reach.

It was, then, under the pressure of necessity only that the following sketch of the development of Muslim thought was divided into three parts. By no possible arrangement did it seem feasible to treat the whole at once. Intolerable confusions and unintelligible complications would, to all appearance, be the result. As the most concrete and simple side, the development of the state is taken first. Second, on account of the shortness of the course which it ran, comes the development of the legal ideas and schools. Third comes the long and thrice complicated thread of theological thought. It is for the student to hold. firmly in mind that this division is purely mechanical and for convenience only; that it

[p. 5]

corresponds to little or nothing in the real nature of the case. This will undoubtedly become clear to him as he proceeds. He will meet with the same names in all three divisions; he will meet with the same technicalities and the same scholastic system. A treatise on canon law is certainly different from one on theology, but each touches the other at innumerable points; their authors may easily be the same; each will be in great part unintelligible without the other. He must then labor to merge these three sections again into one another. His principal helps in this, along with diligent parallel reading, "will be the chronological table and the index. In the table he will watch the succession of men and events grouped from all the three sections; from the index he will trace the activities of each man in these different spheres. The index too, will give him the technical terms and he will observe their recurrence in historical, legal, and theological theory. Further, it will serve him as a vocabulary when he comes to read technical texts.

But, again, another warning is necessary. The sketch given here is incomplete, not only in details but in the ground that it covers. Important phases of Muslim law, theology, and state theory are of necessity passed over entirely. Thus Babism is not touched at all and the Shi'ite theology and law hardly at all. The Ibadite systems have the merest mention and Turkish and Persian mysticism are equally neglected. For such weighty organizations the Darwish fraternities are most inadequately dealt with, and Muslim missionary enterprise might well be treated ...

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