Joseph Schacht

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Schacht, Joseph


Born Mar. 15, 1902, in Ratibor (Racibórz); died Aug. 1,1969, in New Jersey. Islamic scholar; specialist in Islamic law. Editor and one of the founders of the journal Studia Islamica; editor of the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam. Of German extraction.

Schacht left fascist Germany in 1934 and moved to Egypt, where he taught at the University of Cairo until 1939. From 1946 to 1953 he was a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford, and from 1953 to 1959 he headed the Arabic studies department at the State University of Leiden. In 1959 he became a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Columbia University in New York City.

Schacht believed that the formation of the basic system of Islamic law had been completed by the eighth century. Although he dealt with Islamic law chiefly in a historical and sociological context, Schacht saw the law as self-contained.


The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. Oxford, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Born in 1916, Lewis was educated in the scholarship of the 19th century and early 20th orientalists, the mustashriqun as they were called by Arab historians, among them Sylvestre de Sacy, Snouck Hurgronje, Ignaz Goldziher, Joseph Schacht and William Muir, whose works on the life of Muhammad and the caliphate were underscored with the belief that 'the sword of Mahomet and the Coran are the most stubborn enemies of Civilization, Liberty and Truth which the world has yet known.' A slightly older contemporary was Hamilton Gibb, the acknowledged doyen of Middle Eastern studies in the West for the first half of the 20th century.
Vikor, who outlines the history of Western scholarship on "origins" and summarizes modern Muslim responses to figures such as Joseph Schacht as well as the more recent conclusions of Harald Motzki, Wael Hallaq, and others.
The Institute also arranged a monthly visit to Columbia (New York), where Ansari would spend part of the day with Joseph Schacht (1902-1969), then considered the most erudite Western scholar in the field of Islamic law.
Some of these tales and accounts have even been mentioned in the book by Joseph Schacht & C.
See, eg, Joseph Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (1950); Joseph Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law (1964); Joseph Schacht, `Islamic Religious Law' in Joseph Schacht and C E Bosworth (eds), The Legacy of Islam (1974) 392.
60-65) which Joseph Schacht summed up in his famous chapter on "The Nature Of Islamic Law" in An Introduction To Islamic Law (Oxford, 1964).
Coulson's view was challenged by Joseph Schacht who argued that to the contrary, Islamic law is characterized by individualism in its entire structure, citing in particular the law of inheritance and the law relating to waqf (religious endowments) as examples.(91) Schacht also makes the point that one of the leading scholars of the Hanafi school of law outlined the dictum, "The Imam [i.e.
Joseph Schacht, a noted scholar of the subject, has acknowledged the point, conceding that Islamic law "is to some extent content with mere theoretical acknowledgment," and "was never supported by an organized power." Court decisions might reflect the consensus of the ulema, or legal scholars, but then again they might not.
Since Joseph Schacht, many Western scholars have displayed something bordering on an obsession with legal hadiths, so many of which are ambiguous, defective, or tangential to the vast majority of legal cases.
This is the famous gap between theory and practice that so many early scholars of Islamic law, such as Joseph Schacht and Noel Coulson, emphasized in much of their work.
Motzki challenged the reigning conclusions of Joseph Schacht and the late G.