Colin Imber, Ebu ‘s-su’ud: The Islamic Legal Tradition, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Pp. xii + 288. $49.50 (ISBN 0-8047-2927-1).
In the Ottoman legal tradition, Ebu’s-su’ud (c. 1490-1574) is primarily recognized as the jurist who harmonized Hanafite law with Ottoman secular law. It is this significant theme that constitutes the focus of Imber’s brilliant study. But Imber’s analysis goes beyond the limits of this harmonization that fell within the spheres of land tenure and taxation, constitutional law, cash waqfs, and, to some extent, penal law. He also discusses several other legal areas to which Ebu’s-su’ud contributed, situating them, with remarkable competence, in the larger context of classical and pre-Ottoman Hanafite law. These areas include marriage and its dissolution, equality, dowry, maintenance, child custody and guardianship, waqfs property and administration, theft, usurpation, property damage, personal injury, homicide, and criminal liability.
Imber’s coverage of all these subjects, together with an excellent biographical account of Ebu’s-su’ud and an introduction to the Ottoman legal context, affords a reasonably comprehensive view of this man’s celebrated legal career. It is therefore quite fitting that the volume is published in the series Jurists: Profiles in Legal Theory, Ebu’s-su’ud taking his rightful place alongside Francis Bacon, Max Weber, and H. L. A. Hart.
Read the rest of the review here: Book Review Ebu Sa’ud Wael Hallaq