[...] by tracing the meaning and function of the concept in the intellectual context within which it emerged - namely, the scholarship of al-ShafW and of those scholars who inspired and were inspired by him - I demonstrate that the Shafici principled rejection of taqld in works of legal hermeneutics was intimately connected to the very raison d'tre of the discipline of usui as conceived by al-ShafW. [...] I argue that beyond the ideal theory of usui, a conscious debate regarding the actual practice of taqld can be discovered at the unlikely site of positive law (fiqh).
Rethinking Taqlid in the Early Shaﬁºi School Ahmed El Shamsy Harvard University introduction The concept of taqlid in Islamic law has long received a bad press. Juxtaposed with the creative vigor of ijtihad—direct and independent engagement with the sacred sources— taqlid, or legal conformism, has been dismissed as “servile imitation of other jurisconsults” 1 or “slavish obedience to one or other of the four recognized legal schools.” 2 By approaching the concept from the perspective of legal studies, Norman Calder, Mohammad Fadel, Wael Hallaq, and Sherman Jackson have provided important correctives to this disparaging view. 3 Drawing primarily on analyses of post-formative legal texts, they have demonstrated that, instead of representing the mere empty shell of ijtihad, taqlid in fact embodies a more de- ve
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