After Islamic Natural Law Theories

This research paper is part of a larger book project on Abrahamic Natural Law Theories.
The book will be co-authored by Anver M. Emon, a Roman Catholic Natural Law theorist, and Jewish Law Natural Law theorist. The paper itself is meant to continue the line of research Emon began in his Islamic Natural Law Theories. He outlines the argument he made in that book in Part I of the paper for the workshop. One of the critiques Emon often gets of the book is why he did not start his natural law inquiry by examining the semantic field around the word tabi’a, which can be translated as nature. Emon has taken on that critique to explore the limits of the natural law theories that he has identified in premodern Islamic legal theory sources (usul al-fiqh). To do so, Emon has investigated the use of the word tabi’a in the genre of Islamic philosophy (falsafa), which is a different genre from the legal theory one, but which Muslim jurists writing in usul al-fiqh nonetheless were aware of and even studied. So the question is what was going on in the philosophy discussions on nature and how was that different from what
Emon found in the usul al-fiqh sources on ‘natural law’?

Emon is not a philosopher and does not consider himself a specialist in that field. Nevertheless, Emon’s hope is that through an engaged discussion he can gain greater insights on the tensions he identified in this paper and discuss different avenues that he might otherwise take in this project and forthcoming ones.