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A Report of the Fiqhi Issues Workshop on “The Past, Present and Future of Shīʿī Ijtihād”

The 6th annual fiqhī workshop on “The Past, Present and Future of Shīʿī Ijtihād” was held on 5th-6th July, 2018 with the attendance of prominent scholars from Iran and Iraq seminary and the Western university.

The Al-Mahdi Institute initiated the hosting of an annual Fiqhi Workshop, with aims to tackle important contemporary issues of practical concern that are faced by Muslims living in the modern world. There is no doubt that the gulf between the historical fiqhi discourse and the current discourses of society has grown over time; a gap that needs to be critically addressed in the present day.

In this two-days Fiqhi workshop teachers from Hawza Ilmiyya and University such as, Ayatollah Sayyid Mostafa Mohaqiq Damad, Sayyid Hussain Qazwini, Robert Gleave, Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain, Dr. Ali Fanaei, Dr. Zackery M. Hereen, Professor Devin J Stewart, Abdulaziz Sachedina and Mohammad R. Kalanta exchange their new researches regarding the Fiqhi issues.

What follows is the abstracts of the their article and some pictures of the workshop:

Pro. Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad

Shiite Continues Ijtihad in Dealing with the Issues of the Present Age

Most Islamic fuqaha have from the earliest times tried to harmonize the tensions between social demands and the “Shari’a”, interpreting sacred texts in a way as to make religious law as acceptable to conventions as possible in order to avoid any social friction, except for cases of direct opposition between the two, when there would be no other choice but to stop the convention, an act called rada’ (“prohibiting”) in Islamic terminology. On this matter, the different schools of ijtihad have pursued different ways and offered their own proposals, among which one can mention the theories of expediencies (“maslaha), or aims (“maqasid”), and of cause and philosophy (“illah va hilmah”).

In our times, the main challenge for Islamic jurisprudence is the issue of human rights, fr which the fuqaha must formulate theories based on general principles and rules of Islamic fiqh. Hereby, the main task is finding out the adequate general principles and rules, some of which count as belonging to fiqh proper and some to a stage prior to fiqh.

Shiite ijtihad certainly is capable of being applied on the basis of rational principle of justice and human dignity, which means that to obtain judicial verdicts these two principles can be seen as logically prior to other principles, and not alongside them. In our opinion, this method can enable Islamic fiqh to take up the challenge posted by issues concerning human rights. The present paper tries to prove this assertion.



Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina- Georg Mason University

Beyond Ijtihad: in Search of Moral Foundations of Interpretive Jurisprudence

Ijtihad has served as a catchword for reformist agenda in the Muslim world. In different forms and with different emphases the term has evoked connection with liberalism in politics and enlightenment in intellectualism among Muslim leaders and thinkers. The concept has been viewed with suspicion among the traditionalists, and has met outright rejection among the conservative literalist, the ahl al-hadith. Depending on who speaks for Islamic jurisprudence, the signification of ijtihad has undergone metamorphosis, at times, beyond recognition if it still represents matured legal reasoning endeavoring to find solutions for day to day living of modern Muslim men and women. A more fashionable and favorite term among the moderniting Muslim jurists is the Maqasid jurisprudence, signaling a rediscovery of a new methodology for the applied jurisprudence, as if these objectives were some kind of eternal prescription for asserting the slogan: al-Islam huwa al-hall (Islam is the solution { for all modern maladies in the field of law, ethics, and politics}). Obviously, and probably fir its own good, this academic treatment of methodology has been confined to the institutions of higher learning with no impact on the traditional centers of Islamic thought and practice. It will be unfair to judge these scholarly endeavors so sweepingly negative. Needless to say that without rational hermeneutics and contextual understanding of the objectives of the Shari’a and their application in contemporary Muslim lives, how can one assert the relevance of these lofty ideas and values preserved in the classical sources of Islamic legal thoughts? The challenge for any serious scholars of Islamic legal methodology is to come out of his/her “academic” claims in the real world where people are faced with day to day decision-making in all areas of human living in modern societies. Ijtihad whether founded upon text-based hermeneutics or on purely rational estimation of the “objectives” of the divine law, is an on-going process that suggests nothing more than a work in progress.

In recent years ijtihad had opened a new chapter in forging an intimate and even logically feasible relationship between ethics and interpretive jurisprudence, the new methodology has drawn attention among some Shiʻite jurists of Iraq, establishing a new integrative and yet distinct ethical underpinnings of Islamic religious law. If the process of ijtihad is related to methodological application of cognitively valid evidence in support of an acquired ruling in a case, then ethics ( the search for and determination of objective evaluation of right or wrong course of action) forms an integral part of interpretive jurisprudence. The core of this paper will address this new development in the area of rational-textual reading of the legal methodology and its cognitive validity in the area of applied jurisprudence.

Sayyid Hussein Qaswini- Islamic Seminary of Karbala  

The Need for Ilm Al-Rijal in Ijtihad

There is much debate on the need for Ilm Al-Rijal in the process of Ijtihad. Those who reject the need to Ilm Al-Rijal pose several justifications. One is that the door of knowledge is shut (bab al ilm munsad) and so may refer to any conjecture, and since there is a possibility that any given tradition can be valid despite it’s isnad -especially if it does not contradict the Quran and logic – we can rely on that tradition without referred Ilm Al-Rijal. Another justification is that Khabar al wahid is not valid and unreliable and so a jurist must derive laws from other sources such as the Quran, logic and consensus. With the invalidation of khabar al wahid we no longer have a need for lim Al Rijal.

On the other hand, the majority of jurists correctly believe in the need for Ilm Al-Rijal for the process of deriving laws. Khabar al wahid is a valid source of Islamic laws as long as meets certain conditions and criteria. In fact, khabar al wahid is the major basis for Shii law. And since one of the most efficient means of validating a tradition is by studying it’s isnad, we are in need of Ilm Al-Rijal.

However, this does not mean that the isnad is the only way to validate the authenticity of a tradition. In our paper, we will examine the need for Ilm Al-Rijal and aim to reach a moderate conclusion that does not put away with this science completely nor does it make it a central tenet of Ijtihad.




Professor Robert Gleave- University of Exeter

The Controversy around Ijtihad in matters of Belief

In this paper I aim to examine the much-cited maxim that ijtihad is permitted in matters of jurisprudence (fiqh) but not in matters of belief (I’tiqad, usul al-din). One finds this general position across many Muslim schools of theology and law; it is tied to the underlying notion that, for the religious subject (mukallaf) matters of belief need to be established with certainty based on indubitable indicators, whilst legal matters only require informed opinion (zann) based on uncertain indicators analysed by the legally competent expert (mujtahid). Two things sparked my interest in this question:

First, there is examination the discussions of different opinions (khilaf) in matters of belief (found in both Sunni and Shiʻi works of usul al-fiqh. In these discussions one finds a range of opinion: most (but not all) subscribe to the distinction between “core” Muslim beliefs (on which there can be no ijtihad or khilaf) and subsidiary beliefs (on which the community can differ). However, this line (between matters of certainty and dispute in religious doctrine) shifts between works without a firm resolution, indicating that even for the premodern usulis and theologians, a fixed on which all Muslim must agree is not established. This impacts, of course, on the dynamics of declarations of unbelief (takfir).

Second, in the later Akhbari-Usuli dispute in twelve Shiʻism, one finds an assertion from some Akhbaris that the individual believer can (and in some cases must) exercise her or his ijtihad in matters of belief, but (as it natural for Akhbaris) they declare all ijtihad in fiqh impermissible. This interesting reversal of the Usuli position (in which ijtihad is not allowed in matters of belief, but unavoidable in matter of fiqh) is partly terminological. But it also reveals an Akhbari emphasis on the individual responsibility for one’s religious belief (and not merely one’s religious observance).

Both of these prompts reveal to me that what counts as “true” Muslim belief was for from rigid. Even amongst some (supposedly) rigid premodern Muslim intellectuals what constituted “sound” belied many have been more ambiguous than some contemporary voices might wish to present it. This is what I am to talk about.


Dr. Ali Fanaei- Al-Mahdi Institute

From “the Ethics of Slavery” to “the Ethics of Worship”: Some Recent Developments in Shi’a Jurisprudence

To derive a law or any quasi-legal norm from its sources, we need, among other things, a model or paradigm. This paradigm has two major aspects; metaphysical and epistemic/hermeneutical. From the metaphysical point of view, this paradigm consists of a set of meta-legal norms which determine the rights and responsibilities of both the law-maker and the subjects of the law. From the epistemic/hermeneutical point of view, the paradigm in question plays the methodological role of a framework in understanding and regulating the relationship between the law-maker and the subject. In other words, the epistemic/hermeneutical function of these meta-legal norms is to govern the conduct of jurists in the process of legal inference, instructing them how to accomplish the task of deriving the law and issuing verdicts (Fatwas). Let us call this set of meta-legal norms “The ethics of legislation”. When it comes to Sharia as a legal system or at least a quasi-legal system, this paradigm becomes a theological assumption of Islamic jurisprudence. Like other legal traditions. Shiite legal tradition is based on such a paradigm. In this paper, I will outline and briefly examine four different paradigms, using the following labels: “the ethics of slavery”, “the ethics of obedience”, “ the ethics of sovereignty” and “the ethics of worship”. The first model has been the most influential one throughout the history of Islamic civilization. The second and the third model have been suggested very recently by a number of contemporary Shiite jurists, including Ayatollah Sadr, Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Sistani. After outlining and criticising the first three models, I will present and defend the last one as the most appropriate model for understanding Sharia.


Dr. Morgan Clarke- University of Oxford

A More Reasonable and Equitable Approach to Shiʻi Ijtihad

Ijtihad is a powerful symbol of religious authority in Islam generally. The dominant vision in contemporary Imami Shiʻi Islam given it special emphasis both by allowing the possibility of absolute ijtihad and by enjoining non-mujtihads to adopt the opinion of one of the mujtahid class, more specifically, in the prevailing view the ‘most learned’ among them. In this paper, I wish to focus on a domain of religious authority of real practical concern in the context where I have conducted most of my research, Lebanon, in Lebanon, religious courts have jurisdiction over family law. Jafari, twelve Shiʻi, sharia courts (mahakim shar’iyaa), presided over by Shiʻi clerics, apply ‘the jafari madhahib. On what basis do they rule? One dominant view would restrict the right to judge to mujtahid. But in Lebanon, on the relative margins of the Shiʻi scholarly world, claims to mujtahid status are not easily made. Another view would allow the non-mujtahid to judge on the basis of a document of agency (wikala) from a mujtahid. Further possibilities are that it is enough that the non-mujtahid cleric “knows what they are doing” in the restricted field of family law, and /or that they apply the best known opinion (al-mashhur) within the madhhab. It is far from clear in any given case which, if any, of these positions is in operation. From the perspective if the day-to-day operations of the courts, however, the question would seem to be largely irrelevant- a technical matter rather than a practical concern. All judges, civil as much as Islamic, are in any case said to exercise ijtihad of a more down to earth sort in determining their rulings. But in the context of pressing debates about the reform of personal status law in Lebanon, which lags behind other jurisdictions in the region, the Shiʻi judge’s to exercise their ijtihad in determining the law to be applied is presented as definitive response to the possibility of codification, a possibility that the jafari courts are almost alone in continuing to resist. That would, as others have pointed out make ijtihad here more of a conservative force than the progressive one widely celebrated today. In this paper, drawing on my fieldwork in the Jafari courts, I think through the question of judicial ijithad in particular, as an issue that has considerable implications for the relationship between ideal religious discourse and the practical management of administrative life.


Christopher Pooya Razavian – University of Birmingham

Motahari, Social Justice and Fiqh

The Islamic revolution of Iran was one of the defining moments in global political history. It not only revolutionized Iran’s political structure but also the way religion and modernity can coexist. Morteza Motahari as one of the most influential clerics active before the before the revolution. His books and speeches influenced many. A central effort of Motahari was to create a modern Weltanschauung, world view, or jahan bini in Persian

This world view was the foundation for his political ideology and the center of this political ideology was his concept of justice. Given Motahari’s influence, it is surprising that such little attention has been given to his works in Western academic literature. While his books in Iran have been popular, Motahari’s stances legal issues have been sparsely discussed within the Persian literature. This paper will help to fill this lacuna by examining how Motahari’s understanding of social justice impacted his views on jurisprudence. The difference between Motahari’s understanding of social justice and the traditional understanding of justice will be examined first. This will highlight how Motahari’s understanding of social justice is founded on the two stations of equality and freedom, and how he understood justice to be relative to time and place. This will provide the framework to understand how Motahari employed the concept of justice in fiqh. Motahari used the concept of justice as a primary principle to evaluate various laws. This paper will examine a few of the practical issues that Motahari discussed. It will be shown that Motahari’s conception of Justice influenced his views on Women’s rights, financial transactions, and freedom of thought. He argued for more rights for women in divorce, argued against the use of legal loopholes (hiyal), and that Islam has provided room for freedom of conscience.


Cameron Zargar – Near Eastern Languages & Culture

The Authority of the Muqallid: a Bottom-up Approach to Taqlid in Imami law

Taqlid in Imami Shiʻism is usually evaluated in terms of the authority of the maraji’. These imam jurists provide opinions for millions of followers on essentially all religious aspects of life, including worship, marriage, eating and conducting business. In scholarship on Imami Shiʻism in European languages, the maraj’ are described as holding power over muqallids by way of their charisma. This charisma is oftentimes described as being derived from the Twelve Imams, and framed within the context of Max Weber’s model of genuine or revolutionary charismatic authority. Scholars in academic institutions turn to such theory because the influence of the marji’ cannot be assessed in terms of state or official power, as they have neither a bureaucracy, a formal election, or means of coercion or enforcement. The problem with this approach is that stating the authority of the maraji’ in terms of charisma and personal appeal implies that muqallids do not make a rational decision when they decide to adhere to the opinions of a marja’, which is simply not the case. Rather, muqallids refer to the maraji’ because they believe they are most qualified to interpret Islamic sources, and that by doing they can avoid blame on the Day of Judgment for not sufficiently pursuing God’s law. Furthermore it is the muqallids who choose to self-impose the fatwas of Imami jurists, meaning in essence, the authority of the mark is derived from their followers. Thus, it is worth evaluating the authority these followers have in the process of taqlid. This authority includes: 1. the muqallids’ freedom to choose from among maraji’ : 2. their role in determining who becomes a marja’; and 3. their responsibilities in the application of fatwas. The first and third aspects of the muqallids’ authority is stated in Imami legal theory and reinforced in my interviews with members of the Imami community in Iran. The second aspect can be understood by way of a historical survey of the institution of marja’iyya; the building of patronage networks and establishing relationships with lay members of the Imami community allowed for nineteenth century jurists in Iraq to be recognized as transregional legal authorities in Iran and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Thus, this paper will demonstrate that the muqallids play an active role in the process of taqlid and that the authority of the maraji’ is dependent upon the Imami community at large.


Dr. Zackery M. Hereen – Idaho State University

Ijtihad and Anti-Ijtihad in Shiʻi History

This pepar analyzies Shiʻi conceptions of ijtihad though the lens of history. Instead of only including scholars who wirked to normalize ijtihad and establish the official status of mujtahids, this paper outline a spectrum of positions on ijtihad from varying scholarly perspectives. Including those generally categorized as rationalists textualists and mystics. Research for this paper, then, is based on the writings of Shiʻi scholars who address ijtihad from a wide range of viewpoints.

The question of accepting or rejecting ijtihad is often cited as a primary difference between Usulis, Akhbaris, and Shaykhis. Wahid Bihbahani (d.1791) os widely cited as the champion of Usulism because be advocated ijtihad, and Muhammad Amin al-Astarabadi (d.1627) is generally recognized as the founder of modern Akhbarism because of his rejection of ijtihad. Although Shaykh Ahamad al-Ahsa’i (d.1826) was trained by the most prominent Usuli scholars of his day, he advocated a synthesis of Shiʻism that included mysticism, textualism, and rationalism. Al-Ahsa’i, however, argued that only Prefect Shiʻis are capable of ijtihad. In this study I treat ijtihad as rubric with which to test the boundaries between Shiʻi schools of thought. My analysis scholarship on ijtihad from representatives of these schools indicates that Shiʻi conceptions of ijtihad are much more complex than a simple rejection or acceptance of a common set of principles. The ideas associated with ijtihad evolved over centuries. The ijtihad promoted by Bihbahani, therefore, was different than that of Murtada Ansari (d.1864), who redefined the key terminology associated with ijtihad. Additionaly, the reasons for accepting or rejecting ijtihad changed over the course of Shiʻi history, but were often tied to Sunni-Shiʻi polemics. Al-Astarabadi, for example, condemned Usuli scholars for adopting Sunni methods of jurisprudence. Additionally, Bihbahani rejected analogical reasoning (qiyas) as a Sunni method, but accepted a similar concept of transference (ta’diyya) in his approach to Islamic law.


Professor Muhammad Rasekh- Shahid Beheshti University

How Progressive Can Ijtihad Be? A Word on Qa’idat Al-Mulazima

Ijtihad has been supposed to be a dynamic and promising way of looking into the sacred texts with the aim of putting forth efficacious rules and rulings. These are needed as we have been constantly encountered with an almost infinite number of new human events and problems in response to which new religious ideas and solutions ought to be provided. Qa’idat al-mulazima (correlation (of aql’ and shar’) principle) has been one of the promising theoretical devices in the later Shiʻi usuli scholarship to this effect. It might have been thought that this method can make the required break through with regard to grave and urgent Muslim life problems and hence, keep the ijtihad process as an ever progressive one. Given the epistemological limits within the process of Shi jurisprudential reasoning (usul al-fiqh), the correlation principle’s extreme importance cannot be considered as an exaggeration. For instance, the late Murtaza Mutahhari endeavored to utilize such a device in certain instance, such as insurance contract, and tended to take the qa’ida to its logical extent; a position that sounds like taking a step even further than the thesis of identity of the intellect and the scripture. In this research, upon an exposition of the background and also significance of the correlation principle, the major arguments for and against it shall be introduced. An appraisal, in the end and as a conclusion, will be put forward. The culmination point of an analytic approach to ijtihad from this perspective shall no doubt exceed the realm of usul al-fiqh.


Professor Devin J Stewart- Emory College of Art and Science

Strategies of Sanctifying Ijtihad in Later Twelver Shiite Legal Theory

This presentation discusses two non-technical requirements for ijtihad that appear in Twelver Shiite discussions of legal theory between the sixteenth century CE until the present. One is termed al-quwwah al qudsiyyah  “sacred faculty” or almalakah of qudsiyyah “sacred aptitude.” This first appeated in lists of the requirements for ijtihad in the works of Ali b. Abd al-‘Al al-Karki (d.940/1534) and al-Shahid al-Thani (d.965/1558). It appeared in the standard textbook Ma’alim al-Usul of al-Hasan b. Zayn al-Din al-Amili (d.1011/1602), and has been discussed relatively regularly ever since notably in the works of Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Bihbahani (d.1205/1791). Mirza Abu al-Qasim b. Muhammad Hassan al-Qummi’s (d.1231/1815) Qawanin al-Usul, and also by more recent legal authorities such as Abu al-Qasim al-Khuei, al-Sayyid al-Ruhani, al-Sayyid al-Isfahani, and Kashif al-Qita’ has written a discussion of al-Bihbahani’s thought in this topic. Debate on this concept, which I have labeled “the sanctification  of legal interpretive talent” and which in my view, ultimately derives from Ibn Sina’s philosophical discussions of the status of prophets, centers on computing and contrasting this particular trait or aptitude with other ordinary traits or aptitudes that are functional in society. The second non-technical requirement for ijtihad is that of takhliyat al-nafs “emptying the lower soul: which, to the  best of my knowledge, entered discussions of ijtihad in the works of Muhammad Baqir al-Wahhid al-Bihbahani, Risalah fi al-akhbar wa’l-ijtihad and al-fawa’id al-ha’iriyya. This concept, which appears to derive from the Sufi tradition’s concept of tasfiyat al-batin, or from ethnical discussions of takhliyah and tahhiyah “cleaning and adorning” i.e, freeing oneself from negative traits and adopting positive ones, become an important consideration for al-bihbahani, and this clearly went beyond the ordinary requirement of ‘adalah “moral probity,” which required the active mujtahid to have a clean public moral record. I have not yet found other discussions of this term in later twelve Shiite legal theory, but I suspect that such discussions exist. Both of these concepts provide examples of the connections and cross pollinations of legal theory with other traditions of Islamic thought.


Dr. Elvire Corboz-University of Edinburg

The Definition of Scholarly Capital in Iraq’s Contemporary Marja’iyya Field

Knowledge (‘ilm) is at the heart of the Shiʻi system of clerical authority known as the marja’iyya. At a time when more or less well-established claimants to the position are proliferating, this article explores the scholarly credentials of the contemporary marja’ (source of emulation). I conceptualize the marja’iyya with Pierre Purdieu’s notion of the field in order to examine how scholarly capital is defined, and possibly redefined, by thirteen religious scholars currently competing in this marja’iyya field in Iraq. To do so, I use their official in biographies in Arabic and analyze the types of arguments put forward to claim prominence. The biographies invariably address three determinants of scholarly capital: social determinants, in particular the inherited capital of being born into a clerical family; determinants of educational capital, referring to one’s religious training and certifications; and determinants of intellectual-scientific prestige capital, such as one’s scholarship and teaching. Moreover, the credentials emphasized in the different biographies are much alike, and if a marja’ does not satisfy them, ‘almost-like credentials are constructed. This indicates a high degree of both homogeneity and stability in the ways capital is defined within and by an otherwise internally diverse marja’iyya field.


Sheikh Kumail  Rajani- University of Exeter

Shia Ijtihad: Juristic Exertion to Religious Establishment

 Though the Shiʻi community enjoyed the presence of the Imams till 260/873 and relied on their instructions is legal matters, there are certain reports suggesting that the Companions of the Imams exercised ijtihad within the Shiʻi framework of the concept. This could either be a result of the direct encouragement of the Imams or conversely, the Imam was not held, at least by some of the Companions, as a divine juristic authority as assumed by the Prophet. The implication of this thought is that Imams also exercised ijtihad in their interpretation of Quran and Prophetic traditions, an idea which is unequivocally rejected nu the later Shiʻi scholars. Notwithstanding the ambiguity surrounded the concept, authority and the remit of ijtihad in the early stage, its modality changed significantly post-occultation as the Shiʻi community encountered new challenges is formulating their social identity in the absence of an Imam. The scholars of the post-occultation era, whilst averting from the popular Sunni framework of ijtihad, endeavored to present a model for ijtihad conductive to the Shiʻi worldview of Imam. But it was late in the seventh/thirteenth century when the epitome of the Shiʻi ijtihad become evident as a new genre of ijtihad fiqh emerged in the school of Hilla. The practice sustained, with the exception of a relatively dominant scripturalist tendency of the Safavid era, and finally culminated in the colossal literature of fiqh and usul al-fiqh in the school of Najaf. This new centre not only flourished academically, but also attracted larger Shiʻi populace to direct their religious queries and dues, soon to advance the historical autonomous ijtihadi practice into a modern heteronomy marji’iyya establishment. Here, besides demonstrating an individual’s expertise on the matters pertaining to law, the purpose was to cater the religious and geo-political needs of the followers. The post-Islamic Republic of Iran’s Qum is believed to have adopted the framework of the religious establishment of Najaf and continued to flourish with negligible ad hoc changes within the system, it is quite evident that the modality of the ijtihad remains unchallenged and the minimal changes are circumstantial. However, the contemporary school of Qum has provided some academic space to discuss and challenge the conventional Shiʻi jurisprudence. This approach not only challenges certain conventional fatwas but also suggests a different epistemological framework to conduct a more holistic ijtihad. This paper aims to provide a brief outline of the trends and strands os Shiʻi ijtihad throughout the history and examine the current reformatory attempts to redefine ijtihad for more dynamic fiqh (fiqh al-puya).


Dr Ali Reza Bhojani – University of Nottingham

Ayat al-Nafr: A Quranic Justification for Collective Ijtihad

ABSTRACT: The Quran condemns individuals who do not use, nor explore, their own understanding in matters of religion. Yet Quran 9:122, often referred to as Ayat an-Nafr, apparently obliges a group of individuals from every community to go forth in pursuit of a deep understanding of religion, so that that they may ware the people when they return to them. This paper will explore the potential of 9:122 to act as justification for emerging notions of collective ijtihad.

Muslim legal theorists have long been citing this verse as a potential justification, not for collective ijtihad, but for the authority of the isolated tradition (khabar wahid). This has led legal theorists to reject the possibility of the verse suggesting that knowledge acquisition and transmission ought to be collective. The verse has been further employed to advocate a Quranic justification for the authority of scholarly fatwa issued by individual mujtahids and the necessity of non-specialists to follow these opinions. After critically reviewing the exegetical history of the verse amongst Shiʻi legal theorists, the paper will argue that neither the verse itself, no its apparent context, support the prevalent views. The paper will then move to discuss the potential of the verse to support collective notions of ijtihad, and whether the verse is in fact not simply directive (irshadi) towards changing non-scripture dependent ideas in epistemology which seem to demand a shift towards collective ijtihad.

Mohammad R. Kalantari- Royal Holloway University of London

Shiʻi Clerical Authority and the Dilemma of Trias Politica in Modern Era

The nation of separation of executive, legislature, and judiciary powers, Trias Politica, is one of the distinct features of democratic regimes in modern political thought. For many, failure and success of a democracy lies in the extent to which the separation and independence of these there branches of the governance is realized. In Shiʻi orthodox doctrine, however, they are originally the Prophet, and his twelve succeeding infallible Imams who have the divine rights to rule, to legislate, and to judge. And of course, Shiʻi mujtahids, as general deputies of last Imam, have appropriated some of his prerogatives and claimed for themselves the similar rights of legislation and judiciary, Ifta and qada. Consequently, it is incumbent upon Shiʻi mujtahids to issue legal opinions based on their interpretation of divine law in given circumstances, and to carry out judicial arbitration during the Occultation Era. They retained for themselves, in any case, the exclusive authority for supervision and application of the law. Reviewing the original resources, and probing the sources of these jurisprudential standpoints, this research aims to address two distinct questions. Cam a given mujtihad refrain himself of political activism while at the same time claiming over exclusive authority in more conformity with the contingencies of modern democratic settings?

Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain- al-Mahdi Institute

Ijthad and Taqlid within an Existential Framework

Taklif as the imposition of religious duties and responsibilities on individuals and communities in all areas of human life is contingent on capacities and abilities. On the other hand, since capacities and abilities are existentially based they are relativistic and in a constant state of change due to the individuality of existent entities and a continual state of flux and change in existence generally. The implication of this is that taklif is also in a state of flux and change both on the vertical and the horizontal axis in line with the nature of existence.

Ijtihad as means of ascertaining taklif in relativistic and an evolutionary existential framework of necessity has to be fluid and dynamic in line with the nature of taklif. Therefore, ijtihad as means of appreciating taklif similarly will undergo a constant state of change since the only requirement from ijtihad by Sharia standards is accuracy in appreciation of taklif. Consequently, ijtihad as a means of appreciating taklif would require newer models that are constantly integrating different disciplines and bringing together different expertise in any given area of human life.

Finally, taqlid, as   means of ascertaining taklif through reliance on the ijtihad of another is based on levels of incompetency in understanding taklif directly in differing individual and collective contexts. This incompetency is naturally reduced with the growth of human learning and experience in areas that have already been responded to through ijtihad and hence remains no further need taqlid in those matters, however the growth of the human community will raise newer level of incompetency with the result that taqlid as reliance on others is constantly being reduced in areas of competency and increased in newer areas with human growth and sophistication.

In conclusion since taklif is existentially based it creates dynamism in the nature of ijtihad and the level of reliance on ijtihad at every level of human existence.

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