Coercion and Responsibility in Islam: A Study in Ethics and Law

ISBN : 9780198788775

Mairaj U. Syed
272 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Nov 2016
Oxford Islamic Legal Studies
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In Coercion and Responsibility in Islam, Mairaj Syed explores how classical Muslim theologians and jurists from four intellectual traditions argue about the thorny issues that coercion raises about responsibility for one's action. This is done by assessing four ethical problems: whether the absence of coercion or compulsion is a condition for moral agency; how the law ought to define what is coercive; coercion's effect on the legal validity of speech acts; and its effects on moral and legal responsibility in the cases of rape and murder. Through a comparative and historical examination of these ethical problems, the book demonstrates the usefulness of a new model for analyzing ethical thought produced by intellectuals working within traditions in a competitive pluralistic environment. The book compares classical Muslim thought on coercion with that of modern Western thinkers on these issues and finds significant parallels between them. The finding suggests that a fruitful starting point for comparative ethical inquiry, especially inquiry aimed at the discovery of common ground for ethical action, may be found in an examination of how ethicists from different traditions considered concrete problems.


1 Compulsion and Moral Agency in Mu'tazilism
2 Coercion and Moral Agency in Ash'arism
3 Defining Coercion in Hanafism
4 Defining Coercion in Shafi'ism
5 Coerced Speech Act Jurisprudence in Hanafism and Shafi'ism
6 Coerced Harm Jurisprudence in Hanafism and Shafi'ism

About the author: 

Mairaj U. Syed is an Assistant Professor in the department of religious studies at the University of California, Davis. His research explores the history of Islamic legal and ethical thought, particularly areas dealing with public law, family law, and politics. He is also interested in the development of hadith literature and the social network that transmitted and preserved it in the first 250 years of Islamic history. Syed holds Ph.D. in religion from the Princeton University, and a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from University of Texas, Austin.

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