Wael B. Hallaq is a scholar of Islamic law and Islamic intellectual history.


Hallaq is Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and is considered to be a leading scholar in the field of Islamic legal studies. [1][2][3][4] His work has been translated into several languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Persian, and Turkish.[5] In 2009 Hallaq was named by John Esposito and his review panel as being among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.[6]

Hallaq first became known for his work challenging the notion of closing of the gate of ijtihad; that is, the abandonment of independent reasoning in search of a legal opinion, which had been posited by historians such as Joseph Schacht to have occurred in Islam around 900 C.E.[6][7]


Authored volumes[citation needed]
  • The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity's Moral Predicament (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).
  • An introduction to Islamic law (Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • Shari'a: theory, practice, transformations (Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • The origins and evolution of Islamic law (Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
  • Was the Gate of Ijtihad Closed? The Early Essays on the History of Islamic Legal Theories by Wael B. Hallaq / ed. and trans. Atsushi Okuda (Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2003; in Japanese, containing translations of a number of the below articles).
  • Authority, continuity, and change in Islamic law (Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
  • A history of Islamic legal theories : an introduction to Sunnī uṣūl al-fiqh (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
  • Law and legal theory in classical and medieval Islam (Aldershot, UK; Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1995; containing reprints of twelve articles published between 1984 and 1993).
  • Ibn Taymiyya against the Greek logicians / translated with an introduction and notes by Wael B. Hallaq (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993; a translation of Jahd al-qarīḥah fī tajrīd al-Naṣīḥah, an abridgement by al-Suyūṭī of Ibn Taymīyah's work Naṣīḥat ahl al-bayān fī al-radd ʻalá manṭiq al-Yūnān).
Series editor[citation needed][8]
  • Themes in Islamic Law, 7 vols. (Cambridge University Press; two volumes published to date).
Edited anthologies
  • The formation of Islamic law (Aldershot, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate/Variorum, 2004).
  • Islamic studies presented to Charles J. Adams / edited by Wael B. Hallaq and Donald P. Little. (Leiden; New York: Brill, 1991).
  • Tradition, Modernity, and Postmodernity in Arabic Literature : Essays in Honor of Professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by Kamal Abdel-Malek and Wael Hallaq (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000).
  • "Qur'anic Constitutionalism and Moral Governmentality: Further Notes on the Founding Principles of Islamic Society and Polity," Comparative Islamic Studies, 8, 1-2 (2012): 1-51.
  • "Groundwork of the Moral Law: A New Look at the Qur'ān and the Genesis of Sharī'a," Islamic Law and Society, vol.16 (2009): 239-79.
  • "Islamic Law: History and Transformation," The New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 4, ed. R. Irwin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010): 142-83.
  • "What is Sharia?" Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, 2005–2006, vol. 12 (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2007): 151-80.
  • "Juristic Authority vs. State Power: The Legal Crises of Modern Islam," Journal of Law and Religion, 19, 2 (2003–04), 101-116.
  • "Can the Shari'a be Restored?" in Yvonne Y. Haddad and Barbara F. Stowasser, eds., Islamic Law and the Challenges of Modernity (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2004), 21-53.
  • "'Muslim Rage' and Islamic Law," Hastings Law Journal, 54 (August, 2003), 1-17.
  • "The Quest for Origins or Doctrine? Islamic Legal Studies as Colonialist Discourse," UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, 2, 1 (2002–03), 1-31.
  • "A Prelude to Ottoman Reform: Ibn 'Abidîn on Custom and Legal Change," Histories of the Modern Middle East: New Directions, eds. I. Gershoni et al. (Boulder & London: Lynne Rienner, 2002), 37-61.
  • "Takhrij and the Construction of Juristic Authority," Studies in Islamic Legal Theory, ed. Bernard G. Weiss (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 317-35.
  • "On Dating Mâlik's Muwatta'," UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, 1, 1 (2001–02), 47-65.
  • "From Geographical to Personal Schools?: A Reevaluation," Islamic Law and Society, 8,1 (2001), 1-26.
  • "The Author-Jurist and Legal Change in Traditional Islamic Law," RIMO (Maastricht), 18 (2000), 31-75.
  • "The Authenticity of Prophetic Hâdith: A Pseudo-Problem," Studia Islamica 89 (1999), 75-90.
  • "Qadis Communicating: Legal Change and the Law of Documentary Evidence," al-Qantara, XX (1999), 437-66.
  • "The Qadi's Diwan (Sijill) before the Ottomans," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 61, 3 (1998), 415-36.
  • "Introduction: Issues and Problems," (as Guest Editor) Islamic Law and Society, 3, 2 (1996), 127-36.
  • "Ifta' and Ijtihad in Sunni Legal Theory: A Developmental Account," in Kh. Masud, Brink Messick, and David Powers, eds., Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftîs and their Fatwas (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), 33-43.
  • "Model Shurut Works and the Dialectic of Doctrine and Practice," Islamic Law and Society, 2, 2 (1995), 109-34.
  • "Murder in Cordoba: Ijtihad, Ifta' and the Evolution of Substantive Law in Medieval Islam" Acta Orientalia (Oslo), 55 (1994), 55-83.
  • "From Fatwas to Furu': Growth and Change in Islamic Substantive Law" Islamic Law and Society, 1 (February 1994), 17-56.
  • Co-author. Symposium on Religious Law: Roman Catholic, Islamic, and Jewish Treatment of Familial Issues, Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Journal, 1, 16 (1993), 41f, 53f, 79f.
  • "Was al-Shafi'i the Master Architect of Islamic Jurisprudence?," International Journal of Middle East Studies, 4 (November 1993), 587-605.
  • "Usul al-Fiqh: Beyond Tradition," Journal of Islamic Studies, 3, 2 (1992), 172-202.
  • "Ibn Taymiyya on the Existence of God," Acta Orientalia (Copenhagen), 52 (1991), 49-69. (Translated into Turkish by Bilal Kuspinar, "Ibn Teymiyye'ye Göre Allah'in Varligi," Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi 3 (April, 1993), 135-153).
  • "The Primacy of the Qur'an in Shatibi's Legal Theory," in Wael B. Hallaq and D. Little, eds., Islamic Studies Presented to Charles J. Adams (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991), 65-86.
  • "On Inductive Corroboration, Probability and Certainty in Sunni Legal Thought," in Nicholas L. Heer, ed., Islamic Law and Jurisprudence: Studies in Honor of Farhat J. Ziadeh (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990), 3-31.
  • "Logic, Formal Arguments and Formalization of Arguments in Sunni Jurisprudence," Arabica, 37, 3 (1990), 315-358.
  • "The Use and Abuse of Evidence: The Question of Provincial and Roman Influences on Early Islamic Law," Journal of the American Oriental Society, 110, 1 (1990), 79-91.
  • "Non-Analogical Arguments in Sunni Juridical Qiyas," Arabica, 36, 3 (1989), 286-306.
  • "Notes on the Term Qarina in Islamic Legal Discourse," Journal of the American Oriental Society, 108, 3 (1988), 475-80.
  • "A Tenth-Eleventh Century Treatise on Juridical Dialectic," Muslim World, 77, 2-3 (1987), 198-227.
  • "The Development of Logical Structure in Islamic Legal Theory," Der Islam, 64, 1 (1987),42-67. Reprinted in Islamic Law and Legal Theory, ed. Ian Edge (The International Library of Essays in Law and Legal Theory, series editor Tom D. Campbell) (Hampshire: Dartmouth Publishing Co., 1993).
  • "On the Origins of the Controversy about the Existence of Mujtahids and the Gate of Ijtihad," Studia Islamica, 63 (1986),129-41. Persian translation by A. Kazemi-Moussavi, "Rishaha-yi Bahth dar Bara-yi Vujud-i Mujtahid va Bab-i Ijtihad," Tahqiqat-i Islami, 5, 1-2 (1369/1990-1),123-34. Translated into Bahasa Indonesia by Nurul Agustini in Hikmat, 7 (1992), 43-54.
  • "On the Authoritativeness of Sunni Consensus," The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 18, 4 (1986),427-54.
  • "The Logic of Legal Reasoning in Religious and Non-Religious Cultures: The Case of Islamic Law and Common Law," The Cleveland State Law Review, 34, 1 (1985-6), 79-96. Reprinted in Comparative Legal Cultures, ed. Csaba Varga (The International Library of Essays in Law and Legal Theory, series editor T. D. Campbell) (Hampshire: Dartmouth Publishing Co., 1992), 401-418.
  • "Considerations on the Function and Character of Sunni Legal Theory," Journal of the American Oriental Society, 104, 4 (1984), 679-89.
  • "Caliphs, Jurists and the Saljuqs in the Political Thought of Juwayni," Muslim World, 74, 1 (1984), 26-41.
  • "Was the Gate of Ijtihad Closed?" International Journal of Middle East Studies, 16, 1 (1984), 3-41. Reprinted in Islamic Law and Legal Theory, ed. Ian Edge (The International Library of Essays in Law and Legal Theory, series editor Tom D. Campbell (Hampshire: Dartmouth Publishing Co., 1993); Translated into Hebrew in Al-Jama'a, the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies, 8 (2001),118-68, with an introduction by Nimrod Hurvitz.
Encyclopedia entries
  • The Encyclopedia of the Qurân. (Leiden: E.J. Brill):
    • 1. "Apostasy," vol. I (2001), 119-22.
    • 2. "Contracts and Alliances," vol. I, 431-35.
    • 3. "Forbidden," vol. II (2002), 223-226.
    • 4. "Innovation," vol. II, 536-37.
    • 5. "Law and the Quran," vol. III (2003), 149-72.
  • "Gazali as Faqih," Encyclopædia Iranica, ed. E. Yarshater, vol. 10, facs. 4 (2000), 372-74.
  • The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. (Leiden: E.J. Brill):
    • 1. "Shart" (1997)
    • 2. "Talfik" (1997)
    • 3. "Zahir" (2002).
  • Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1996):
    • 1. "Fatwa," vol. II, 649.
    • 2. "Fiqh," vol. II, 666.
    • 3. "Hadith," vol. II, 752.
    • 4. "Hanafi Law School," vol. II, 771.
    • 5. "Hanbali Law School," vol. II, 772.
    • 6. "Maliki Law School," vol. III, 1157-58.
    • 7. "Shafi'i Law School," vol. IV, 1629.
    • 8. "Shari'a," vol. IV, 1638-39.
  • Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, 4 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995):
    • 1."Ahl al-Hall wal-'Aqd," vol. 1, 53-4.
    • 2."Consensus," vol. 1, 312-4.
    • 3."Faqih," vol. 2, 1.
    • 4."Ijtihad," vol. 2, 178-81.
  • "Al-Mantiq al-Usuli," ("Legal Logic"), al-Mawsu'a al-Falsafiyya al-'Arabiyya (The Arabic Encyclopaedia of Philosophy) (Beirut, 1988), vol. II, pt. ii, 1289-95.


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