Morality, Ethics, and Law

  • Week 1: Three dimensions of morality and ethics: Virtue/Character, Universal Principles, Legal Rules

    • What is the role of self-purification and virtue/character development in understanding ethics? What is the connection to Sufism? (see previous month's section on spirituality)

    • Should Qur'anic commandments be understood as legal rules or general principles?

    • Are the commandments of the Qur'an timeless and universal or particular and contextual?

    • Is ethics rule-based or principle-based?

  • Week 2: Case study one -- Marriage and Divorce in the Qur'an

    • How does the Qur'an describe the rights and obligations in relation to divorce?

    • What is the legal rules pertaining to marriage and divorce in the Qur'an? How has the legal tradition (fiqh) interpreted these passages in the Qur'an?

    • How should we interpret the power hierarchy in marriage as described by the Qur'an? How do we apply these passages in our world?

  • Week 3: Case study two -- "War and Peace", fighting and violent conflict (jihad) in the Qur'an

    • How do different passages in the Qur'an address the issue of warfare? How does the message change over time and in different circumstances?

    • How has the Islamic legal tradition (fiqh) interpreted these passages of the Qur'an?

    • How have scholars in the past century and a half reinterpreted these rulings in our modern world?

  • Week 4: Methodology of Qur'anic Ethical Interpretation (reflecting on previous two case-studies)

    • What are the different paradigms or frameworks of interpretation for approaching the previous two case-studies?

    • How does the classical fiqhi framework view scriptural interpretation? How is ethical guidance derived from the Qur'an?

    • How do historicist models or frameworks differ from the fiqhi paradigm?

    • What different models of historicist interpretation of Qur'anic ethics are there?