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Islamic law is a particularly instructive example of “sacred law"

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Islamic law is a particularly instructive example of “sacred law"  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2020, 00:12
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1991 10 SECTION B

Islamic law is a particularly instructive example of “sacred law.” Islamic law is a phenomenon so different from all other forms of law—notwithstanding, of course, a considerable and inevitable number of coincidences with one or the other of them as far as subject matter and positive enactments are concerned—that its study is indispensable in order to appreciate adequately the full range of possible legal phenomena. Even the two other representatives of sacred law that are historically and geographically nearest to it, Jewish law and Roman Catholic canon law, are perceptibly different.

Both Jewish law and canon law are more uniform than Islamic law. Though historically there is a discernible break between Jewish law of the sovereign state of ancient Israel and of the Diaspora (the dispersion of Jewish people after the conquest of Israel), the spirit of the legal matter in later parts of the Old Testament is very close to that of the Talmud, one of the primary codifications of Jewish law in the Diaspora. Islam, on the other hand, represented a radical breakaway from the Arab paganism that preceded it; Islamic law is the result of an examination, from a religious angle, of legal subject matter that was far from uniform, comprising as it did the various components of the laws of pre-Islamic Arabia and numerous legal elements taken over from the non-Arab peoples of the conquered territories. All this was unified by being subjected to the same kind of religious scrutiny, the impact of which varied greatly, being almost nonexistent in some fields, and in others originating novel institutions. This central duality of legal subject matter and religious norm is additional to the variety of legal, ethical, and ritual rules that is typical of sacred law.

In its relation to the secular state, Islamic law differed from both Jewish and canon law. Jewish law was buttressed by the cohesion of the community, reinforced by pressure from outside; its rules are the direct expression of this feeling of cohesion, tending toward the accommodation of dissent. Canon and Islamic aw, on the contrary, were dominated by the dualism of religion and state, where the state was not, in contrast with Judaism, an alien power but the political expression of the same religion. But the conflict between state and religion took different forms; in Christianity it appeared as the struggle for political power on the part of a tightly organized ecclesiastical hierarchy, and canon law was one of its political weapons. Islamic law, on the other hand, was never supported by an organized institution; consequently, there never developed an overt trial of strength. There merely existed discordance between application of the sacred law and many of the regulations framed by Islamic states; this antagonism varied according to place and time.


1. ​​​The author’s purpose in comparing Islamic law to Jewish law and canon law is most probably to
(A) contend that traditional legal subject matter does not play a large role in Islamic law
(B) support his argument that Islamic law is a unique kind of legal phenomenon
(C) emphasize the variety of forms that can all be considered sacred law
(D) provide an example of how he believes comparative institutional study should be undertaken
(E) argue that geographical and historical proximity does not necessarily lead to parallel institutional development


2. ​​​The passage provides information to answer which of the following questions?
(A) Does Islamic law depend on sources other than Arab legal principles?
(B) What secular practices of Islamic states conflicted with Islamic law?
(C) Are Jewish law and canon law the most typical examples of sacred law?
(D) Is Jewish law more uniform than canon law?
(E) What characterized Arab law of the pre-Islamic era?


3. ​​​According to the passage, which of the following statements about sacred law is correct?
(A) The various systems of sacred law originated in a limited geographical area.
(B) The various systems of sacred law have had marked influence on one another.
(C) Systems of sacred law usually rely on a wide variety of precedents.
(D) Systems of sacred law generally contain prescriptions governing diverse aspects of human activity.
(E) Systems of sacred law function most effectively in communities with relatively small populations.


4. ​​​​​​​It can be inferred from the passage that the application of Islamic law in Islamic states has

(A) systematically been opposed by groups who believe it is contrary to their interests
(B) suffered irreparably from the lack of firm institutional backing
(C) frequently been at odds with the legal activity of government institutions
(D) remained unaffected by the political forces operating alongside it
(E) benefited from the fact that it never experienced a direct confrontation with the state


5. ​​​Which of the following most accurately describes the organization of the passage?
(A) A universal principle is advanced and then discussed in relation to a particular historical phenomenon.
(B) A methodological innovation is suggested and then examples of its efficacy are provided.
(C) A traditional interpretation is questioned and then modified to include new data.
(D) A general opinion is expressed and then supportive illustrations are advanced.
(E) A controversial viewpoint is presented and then both supportive evidence and contradictory evidence are cited.


6. ​​​​​The passage implies that the relationship of Islamic, Jewish, and canon law is correctly described by which of the following statements?
I.​Because each constitutes an example of sacred law, they necessarily share some features.
II.​They each developed in reaction to the interference of secular political institutions.
III.​The differences among them result partly from their differing emphasis on purely ethical rules.
(A) I only
(B) III only
(C) I and II only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II, and III


7. ​​​​​The passage suggests that canon law differs from Islamic law in that only canon law
(A) contains prescriptions that nonsacred legal systems might regard as properly legal
(B) concerns itself with the duties of a person in regard to the community as a whole
(C) was affected by the tension of the conflict between religion and state
(D) developed in a political environment that did not challenge its fundamental existence
(E) played a role in the direct confrontation between institutions vying for power

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Islamic law is a particularly instructive example of “sacred law"   [#permalink] 18 Jan 2020, 00:12
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Islamic law is a particularly instructive example of “sacred law"

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