The contrast between religion and law has been continuous throughout Muslim history. Islamic law has always existed in a tension between these two forces: God, who gave the law, and the state--the sultan--representing society and implementing the law. This tension and dynamic have created a very particular history for the law--in how it was formulated and by whom, in its theoretical basis and its actual rules, and in how it was practiced in historical reality from the time of its formation until today. That is the main theme of this book. Knut S. Vikor introduces the development and practice of Islamic law to a wide readership: students, lawyers, and the growing number of those interested in Islamic civilization. He summarizes the main concepts of Islamic jurisprudence; discusses debates concerning the historicity of Islamic sources of dogma and the dating of early Islamic law; describes the classic practice of the law, in the formulation and elaboration of legal rules and practice in the courts; and sets out various substantive legal rules, on such vital matters as the family and ecomic activity.