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Grant number like: FT-54547-06

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FT-54547-06Research Programs: Summer StipendsDavid Reeves VishanoffGod's Performative Speech: Abu Ya'la (d. 1065) and the Origins of Authoritarian Hermeneutics in Islamic Law6/1/2006 - 8/31/2006$5,000.00DavidReevesVishanoff   University of South CarolinaColumbiaSC29208-0001USA2006Religion, GeneralSummer StipendsResearch Programs5000050000

Among the several hermeneutical theories that emerged during the formative period of Islamic legal theory, all but one regarded the Qur'an as a piece of indicative evidence from which law must be inferred through a process of rational interpretation. The exception was formulated by Abu Ya`la, who argued that God's speech functions in the same way as a human speech act, bringing about obligations performatively with a certainty that precludes interpretive debate. This project explores the powerful and flexible hermeneutics that Abu Ya`la's theory of language was designed to support, and concludes that it laid the groundwork for contemporary Muslim jurists who limit Qur'anic meaning to a single obvious and uncontestable interpretation.