The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Legal Theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) in a Treatise on Incest by a Karaite Contemporary of Maimonides in Cairo

Even though uṣūl al-fiqh (‘legal methodology’, ‘legal hermeneutics’) never came to be a curricular discipline of formal Jewish education in the Islamic world, we notice among Jewish scholars of the 10th and 11th centuries an increasing trend to integrate conceptual components of Muslim uṣūl al-fiqh compositions into their own legal and exegetical writings. The major legal codes written by Qaraite savants of the 11th century abound with explicit references to topics of uṣūl al-fiqh. Some compositions even adopted the generic form of Muʿtazilī uṣūl al-fiqh treatises. In the present paper, I explore the continuity of this trend in a Treatise on Incest by a Qaraite contemporary of Maimonides in Cairo while keeping a close eye on conceptual affinities in the work of the Great Eagle.