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Imamiyah (Shiite): An Introduction to Islamic Jurisprudential Sects

1-4-4- The School of Akhbārī Jurists

In the 11th century A.H., a division existed in the Uṣūlī School, under the title of Akhbārīsm. It was crystalized as a distinct movement with the writings of Mulá Muhammad Amīn Astarābādī (d. 1036 A.H.). He wrote al-Fawā’id al-Madanīyah to reject mujtahids (authorized interpreters of religious law). This school could not resist for more than two centuries. Afterwards, Akhbārīsm divided into two branches:

1-    Followers of Mīrzā Muhammad Akhbārī Nayshāpūrī,

2-    Followers of the school of Bahrain (Baḥrānīs),


Jurisprudential Material

Their material was a little more than textual content of traditions.


Jurisprudential Sources

In practice, they believe that the only source for deducing Shi’a jurisprudence is Sunnah, being devoid of The Qur‘an, Consensus, and Reasoning.


Jurisprudential Methodology

They practice the outward aspect of Sunnah and literal meaning of traditions. In the case of being fail to obtain the religious precept, they take precaution. They, usually, believe in precaution while issuing fatwas.


Main Differences between Akhbārī and Uṣūlī Jurists

–         Regard to Jurisprudential Sources, Akhbārī Jurists reject judging by the appearance of The Qur‘an, except while interpreting it by Sunnah. Whereas, Uṣūlī Jurists, regard the appearance of the holy Qur‘an absolutely as a proof.

–         Akhbārīs believe that the Ḥadīths compiled in the Four Books of Shi’a are completely reliable. While, Uṣūlīs believe that they contain infirm traditions, too.

–         Akhbārīs divide Ḥadīths into two groups: authentic and weak. While, Uṣūlīs divide them in four groups: authentic, reliable, fair, and weak.

–         In the case that there is no revealed text, Akhbārīs take precaution. While, Uṣūlīs resort to the principle of exemption.

–         Uṣūlīs approve three options for obtaining religious precepts, ijtihād (interpretive reasoning), imitation (following a religious authority), and precaution. While, referring to the Ḥadīths is the only legal choice for Akhbārīs.

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