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Shiʿite Legal Theory: Sources and Commentaries

This volume contains editions and commentaries of hitherto un-edited manuscripts from the various strands of the Shiʿite tradition of Islamic thought (Zaydi, Ismaʿili and Twelver).

Alongside the individual rules of God’s law (sharīʿa), there has been a vibrant history of more philosophical or theoretical discussions in Islamic thought. Where does God’s law come from? How are God’s rules to be discovered for situations not covered in the revealed sources? Who, within the Muslim community, can make a valid pronouncement on the content of the sharīʿa? The answers to these questions have been debated and discussed by Muslim scholars in the genre of literature called uṣūl al-fiqh, glossed in English language secondary literature as “Islamic legal theory”. This volume contains editions and commentaries of hitherto un-edited manuscripts from the various strands of the Shiʿite tradition of Islamic thought (Zaydi, Ismaʿili and Twelver). A careful side-by-side reading of these texts and commentaries will help identify themes peculiar to the Shiʿite “family” of legal theories. The distinctive Shiʿite contribution to the history of uṣūl al-fiqh has not received the attention it deserves in contemporary scholarship; this volume forms part of wider attempt to bring the richness and diversity of Shiʿite uṣūl to the wider field.

Treats the strands of Shi’ite legal theory as a family of legal traditions, providing illustrative examples with editions of previously unpublished works

  • Examines for the first time in English an intergrated analysis of Shiite traditions and legal theories, including the validity of personal juristic reasoning (ijtihād), linguistic interpretations, the role of certainty in the deduction of law and the legal authority of the imāms
  • Covers Shiʿi uṣūl, which has received little attention in scholarly discussions of Islamic legal theory
  • Focuses not only on the less-neglected Twelver uṣūl but also on Ismaʿili and Zaydi uṣūl traditions
  • Presents texts from a range of regions (Yemen, Iraq and Safavid Persia) and written across a broad time period (from the 5th/11th century to the 13th/18th century)
  • Incorporation of Zaydi, Ismaʿili and Twelver legal traditions in a single analytical framework.

About the Editors

Kumail Rajani is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. He is the editor of The Sound Traditions: Studies in Ismaili Texts and Thought (Brill, 2021) and co-editor of Shiʿi Legal Theory: Texts and Commentaries (forthcoming, 2022). He has published an article, ‘Between Qum and Qayrawān: Unearthing early Shii ḥadīth sources’, in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (2021).

Robert Gleave is Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter. His most recent book is Violence in Islamic Thought from European Imperialism to the Post-Colonial Era (EUP, 2021), co-authored with Mustafa Baig.

Table of Contents

Shiʿi “Family” of Legal Theories: An Introduction
Robert Gleave and Kumail Rajani

  1. Are Rulings of the Prophet Due to Ijtihād and Are all Mujtahids Always Correct? A Chapter
    from the Sharḥ Zubdat al-uṣūl of al-Māzandarānī (d. 1081/1670)
    Robert Gleave

    2. Refraining from Seeking Clarification: A Chapter from al-Wāfī fī sharḥ al-Wāfiya of al-Aʿrajī
    (d. 1227/1812)
    Hadi Qazwini, Aun Hasan Ali, Yusuf Ünal

    3. Can Non-Muslims Become Experts in Islamic Law? Two Sections from the Kawāshif al-ḥujub
    ʿan mushkilāt al-kutub of al-Māzandarānī (d. 1285/1868)
    Amin Ehteshami and Hassan Rezakhany

    4. What Makes a Hadith Transmitter Reliable? A Discussion from the Ghāyat al-ma⁠ʾmūl of al>Kāẓimī (d. 1065/1655)
    Raha Rafii and Belal Abu-Alabbas
  2. Debating the Epistemic Value of Hadith: A Chapter from the Fatḥ al-bāb ilā l-ḥaqq wa-l-ṣawāb
    of Mīrzā Muḥammad al-Akhbārī (d. 1232/1817)
    Kumail Rajani and Nebil Husayn

    6. The Chapter on Analogy (Qiyās) from the Ḥāshiyat al-Fuṣūl al-luʾluʾiyya of Aḥmad b. ʿAbdallāh
    Ibn al-Wazīr (d. 985/1577)
    Sarah Islam and Jan Thiele

    7. The Role of Consensus in Legal Hermeneutics: A Chapter from the Qanṭarat al-wuṣūl ilā ʿilm
    al-uṣūl of al-Muʾayyadī (d. c. 1044/1634)
    Robert Gleave and Kumail Rajani

    8. Why Early Muslims Divided into Sects? A Chapter from the Mukhtaṣar al-uṣūl of ʿAlī b.
    Muḥammad b. al-Walīd (d. 612/1215)
    Kumail Rajani

Bibliographic Information

Title: Shiʿite Legal Theory: Sources and Commentaries

Editor (s): Kumail Rajani & Robert Gleave

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press

Length: 352 pages

ISBN:‎ 978-1399520256

Pub. Date: March 2023

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