Harmonization of law and comparative study; complementing the method of legal learning

Paper presented at the 2015 CLEA Conference in Glasgow

Najibah Mohd Zin
International Islamic University Malaysia

The purpose of this study is to examine whether comparative study is the most appropriate method of learning and teaching in in a curriculum where harmonization of law is the outcome of the process. Harmonisation of law has been adopted as the one method of teaching and learning in Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of law simply for reason that the programs, both in undergraduate and postgraduate level, integrate both secular (non religious) and Islamic (religious) curriculum. Therefore, Islamic/Shariah law constitutes an important component in the legal education as an integral part to the system. The curriculum is designed in such a way that the civil law subjects are taught in parallel to the Islamic law subjects. The idea is to give exposure to the students of both disciplines, able to make comparison and to learn from both systems in order to come out with best practices. The graduates from this school are able to practice in both civil as well as the Shariah courts as Malaysian law recognizes dual jurisdiction. At Postgraduate level, the Kulliyyah introduces Master of Comparative law where the nature of study is comparative in nature. For the purpose of enrolment, the candidate with no Shariah background has to take Shariah law as a prerequisite while the candidate with no civil or common law background has to take civil law subjects. The idea of imposing such criteria is to assist the student in the learning process.
For postgraduate diploma program, the Kulliyyah also introduces two professional courses to assist practitioners and administrators i.e Postgraduate Diploma in Shariah Legal Practice (DSLP) and Diploma in Administration and Islamic Judiciary (DAIJ). The former is designed for those who graduate from other law schools with no Shariah background while the latter is for those who have Shariah background where the emphasis is made on the study of the applicable law as applied in Malaysia. The same concept is imposed for doctoral thesis and Master by research where the candidate is encouraged to write at least one chapter on Shariah law or vice versa or to make comparison with other jurisdictions .

Despite the above objectives, there were diversity of approaches in understanding the main concept of harmonization as well as the method of doing it, that resulted in diversity of outcomes affecting the application of the law at national level especially in cases involving highly sensitive issues such as the conflict of Shariah and common law.

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