The basis and effects of the division between private and public law in classical ıslamic law
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The distinction between public law and private law is commonly referred to in Western legal culture and is considered as the basis of the classification of law. When we study whether such a distinction exists in Islamic law, we discover that it particularly resembles the distinction of the rights (claims) of God and the rights of man in Hanafi legal doctrine. The rights of man encapsulate some benefits which are under his exclusive authority. They are related to civil law (muʿamalāt) and some aspects of penal law, such as the right of retaliation (qisās). On the other hand, the rights of God, which resemble public law, are the rights not related exclusively to any one person but to the benefit of all humanity. By means of this distinction between the rights of man and rights of God, Islamic law is divided into two separate areas similar to the division between (Western) Public and Private law. Yet these two branches of law differ from one another in certain aspects. We observe that the area of rights of man (private law) is shaped around the concept of “milk” which is the most significant term indicating exclusivity on a property. The rights in marriage and retaliation (qisās) are also explained under the light of this term. Moreover, we can say that fiqh gives a more extensive place and time to private law, and that the main theories of fiqh are always developed in the field of private law.