; Rethinking Taqlid in the Early Shafi'i School
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Rethinking Taqlid in the Early Shafi'i School


[...] 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).

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									                Rethinking Taqlid in the Early Sha޼i School
                                             Ahmed El Shamsy
                                             Harvard University

   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-
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