This introductory chapter provides the theoretical framework that guides the book's argument. It situates the debate on Islamic natural law in terms of more general scholarly work on natural law theory, and specifies why ‘nature’ and ‘natural law’ offer an important focal point for recasting premodern debates in Islamic law. It provides an overview of the scholarly and popular debates about reason and authority in Islamic law. And lastly, it provides an overview of the basic argument, with special attention to the terms of art used throughout the book, namely Hard and Soft Natural Law. Generally speaking, the chapter offers a comprehensive summary of the entire book, and is especially useful for scholars who do not specialize in Islamic law, and for students studying the debate for the first time.
Keywords: reason, ijtihad, natural law, practical reasoning, legal reform, maqasid