In her scholarly inquiries Felicitas Opwis addresses the religious sciences of Islam and the historical, social, and political environment in which Islamic thought is articulated. Her main research field focuses on Islamic jurisprudence, and in particular how the formulation of Islamic legal theory is related to intellectual discourse in other fields of Muslim learning, and to the political and social environment. She investigates how Islamic jurisprudents tackle the perpetual dilemma of achieving legal change without changing the scriptural foundations of the law. Through close comparative analyses she looks at how and why legal principles, such as public interest and juristic preference, change over time.
Felicitas Opwis has published several articles and book chapters on questions of legal change in Islamic jurisprudence. These publications deal with the construction of authority within schools of law; re-interpretation of particular legal principles; whether or not a “reformation” has occurred in Islamic law; and the development of the concept of public interest/maslaha. She is currently preparing a book manuscript on the development of the concept of mas?lah?a in Islamic legal theory from the 10th to the 15th century.