Malik and Medina: Islamic Legal Reasoning in the Formative Period. By UMAR F. ABD-ALLAH WYMANN-LANDGRAF. Islamic History and Civilization, vol. 101. Leiden: BRILL, 2013. Pp. xiv + 552. $277, [euro]199.
Malik and Medina is an ambitious and engaging work of scholarship. It argues (1) that Malik's concept of Medinese praxis ([??]amal) is a multifaceted legal tool that its critics long have failed to appreciate and (2) that most Western scholars have misunderstood the formative period of Islamic law. It is both a successful revision of the author's 1978 doctoral dissertation, "Malik's Concept of [??]Amal in the Light of MalikI Legal Theory," and a bold call for Western scholars to direct their gaze away from the presence of prophetic hadiths in early Islamic law to the far more significant role of ra[??]y ("considered opinion") in it. In short, Malik and Medina is required reading for all (advanced) students and scholars of early Islamic law.
The book consists of an introduction, ten chapters arranged into two parts, and a short conclusion. While the content of the book is rich and meticulously documented, the chapter arrangement is not optimal for the reader who is relatively new to early Maliki law. Chapter one provides a sketch of Malik's life and clarifies the differences between his "masterpiece," the Muwatta[??], and the Mudawwana of Sahnun. Chapter two offers a helpful overview of Malik's legal reasoning, which highlights his skillful usage of analogy, discretion (istihsan), preclusion (sadd al-dhara[??]i[??]), and the unstated good (al-masalih al-mursala). Wymann-Landgraf also stresses Malik's awareness and respect for dissent among the Medinese jurists, which is reflected in his usage of "concurrence" (ijtima[??]) instead of the more common term "consensus" (ijma[??]). There is also an illuminating comparison between the legal reasoning of Malik and Abu Hanlfa, in which Malik comes across as more daring in his use of discretion than the Kufan master of the proponents of considered opinion.
Chapters three and four discuss the reception of Medinese praxis by critics and advocates, including the well-known criticisms of al-Shaybani and al-Shafi[??]i, as well as the nuanced support of it in the correspondence between al-Layth b. Sa[??]d and Malik. A particularly useful passage in chapter four is al-QadI [??]Iyad's analysis of how the Malikis of each region accorded Medinese praxis differing degrees of authority (p. 234). These chapters...