The Principles of Territoriality and Personality in Islamic Law: Is there a Locus Regit Actum in Shari’ah?

By Anke Bouzenita.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Legal systems are generally described as being either of personal or territorial validity; being either applicable to the person, independently of the locus, or to the territory, with no consideration of the person’s background. The oldest legal systems, particularly the Roman law system, with its division between indigenous and ‘barbaric’ peoples, gave primary importance to the person and separated between ius civilis, the rights of citizens, and ius gentium, the rights of (non-Roman) peoples. Modern law systems and organizations, like the United Nations, follow the territorial principle. Under the influence of the sociological school in international relations, there have been calls to reconsider the principle of personal validity in international relations.
The paper investigates if and how these principles may be applied to the Islamic legal system, the shari’ah. A number of chosen case studies will serve to show the difficulty of specifying the Islamic legal system as either personally or territorially orientated. The author will attempt to assess the implications of her findings for international relations.

Keywords: Islamic Law, Shari’ah, Territoriality of Law, Personality of Law, International Law

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp.185-196. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 766.820KB).

Dr. Anke Bouzenita

Associate Professor Doctor, Department of Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh (Islamic Law and its Foundations), International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia

Dr. Anke Bouzenita graduated from the University of Bochum, Germany, with a Ph.D. on the History of Islamic Law in 2001. She has been lecturing in the department of Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh at the International Islamic University Malaysia since 2004. Her research interests include the history of Islamic law, Islamic (legal) perspectives on bioethics and biotechnology, International Relations and Orientalism.


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