This book traces the emergence and development of the idea of literal meaning in Islamic legal hermeneutics. Literal meaning is what a text means in itself, regardless of what its author intends to convey or the reader understands to be its message. As Islamic law is based on the central texts of Islam, the idea of a literal meaning that rules over human attempts to understand God's message has resulted in a series of debates amongst modern Muslim legal theorists. In this reading of Islamic legal hermeneutics, Robert Gleave explores various competing notions of literal meaning, linked to both theological doctrine and historical developments, together with insights from modern semantic and pragmatic philosophers. It focuses on Islamic legal writings, with reference to Qur'anic exegesis (tafsir) and Arabic rhetorical works. It describes Muslim debates through the lens of modern Western linguistic philosophy, opening the topic up for Western scholars.