Chapter 8: Property rights, inheritance law and trusts (waqf)
Property rights and interests, particularly land interests, and legal principles and laws regulating the use and ownership of land are important features of every legal system. According to one commentator: From the earliest settlement until the industrial revolution the economic basis of society was agrarian. Land was wealth, livelihood, family provision, and the principal subject-matter of the law. To begin with, moreover, land was also government and the structure of society. In modern legal systems, such as the common law and civil law systems, property law has always been a major area of law, and many legal and philosophical principles have been developed based on the notions of property and ownership. Owing, however, to the development of intellectual property rights in recent decades, traditional real property interests may not now be as important as they were in the past. Furthermore, property institutions, including trusts, are important features of common law legal systems. According to Blackstone: There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind as the right of property; or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe. In both natural law and positivist legal theories the concept of property is considered significant. According to natural law theory, property is approached as a ‘state of nature’ and is considered a natural right. Alternatively, legal positivists, such as Jeremy Bentham, believe that ‘property and law are born together and die together’.
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