Primary Legal Sources

Determining which legal texts are "canonical" in Islamic law is a subjective exercise; to present exhaustive coverage would be impossible and, more likely than not, the result would prove frustrating for the non-specialist. This list includes early texts, from the formative period of each Sunni school, as well as later authoritative texts from the classical period, and a few modern items. Because some of the Arabic texts have been published many times, I have not included information on specific editions. The texts are generally, but not always, divided into "books", with the relevant information included in a "Book of Marriage" (Kitab al-Nikah) and "Book of Divorce" (Kitab al-Talaq). Many, especially later, texts include further topical subdivisions, such as "Book of Maintenance"
(Kitab al-Nafaqa) and "Book of the Waiting Period" (Kitab al-'Idda).

The first group of texts is those available in English translation; the second group is comprised of Arabic texts. The English translations are not necessarily of the most important texts for each school, but their accessibility makes them a useful resource for those non-Arabic readers seeking to gain some familiarity with the jurists' style and process of reasoning as well as their substantive doctrines. There are texts for each of the four surviving schools of Sunni law, but no Shi'i text available in translation.

1. English texts

Ibn Baz, Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah et. al. Islamic Fatawa Regarding Women: Shariah Rulings Given by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Ibn Baz, Sheikh Ibn Uthaimin, Sheikh Ibn Jibreen and Others on Matters Pertaining to Women. Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 1996.

Ibn Rushd. The Distinguished Jurist's Primer: A translation of Bidayat al-Mujtahid. 2 volumes. Nyazee, Imran Ahsan Khan, trans. Reading, UK : Centre for Muslim Contribution to Civilization : Garnet Publishing, 1994-1996.

al-Misri, Ahmad ibn Naqib. Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law [Umdat al-Salik]. Revised edition. Keller, Nuh Ha Mim, trans. and ed. Beltsville (MD): Amana Publications, 1999 [1991]. Has parallel Arabic text and commentaries; care is needed in distinguishing commentaries from original text.

Malik ibn Anas (Imam Malik) Aisha Abdurrahman At-Tarjumana and Yaqub Johnson, trans. Idris Mears, ed. Al-Muwatta. Norwich (England): Diwan Press, 1982. Other translations are also available, but none with a full scholarly apparatus.

Marghinani, `Ali ibn Abi Bakr, d. 1196 or 7. The Hedaya, or Guide; a commentary on the Mussulman laws. [Al-Hidayah] Charles Hamilton, trans. 2d ed., with pref. and index, by Standish Grove Grady. Lahore: Premier Book House, 1975. This translation is sometimes a bit idiosyncratic.

Spectorsky, Susan A. Chapters on Marriage and Divorce: Responses of Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Rahwayh. [Selections from Masa'il Ahmad ibn Hanbal] Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992. Includes useful comparative introduction to marriage in Sunni Islamic law, though without reference to Hanafi jurisprudence.

2. Arabic texts