Rethinking the Taqlīd Hegemony An Institutional, Longue-Durée Approach

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Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim



Islamic legal historiography has dealt extensively with questions of continuity and change, as epitomized by the relationship between ijtihād and taqlīd. This paper offers a new conceptualization of the ijtihād–taqlīd modes of law-making in the Sunni legal tradition. I argue that the institutional transformation from ijtihād to taqlīd required that jurists transform the views of the founding authorities of the schools over the course of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. They achieved this by stratifying legal knowledge in their typologies of muftis and judges in ways that had not been envisioned earlier, justifying their typologies by invoking tropes of decline and the extinction of mujtahids. This longue-durée view will shed light on the institutional significance of the taqlīdification of Islamic law, where legal security and stability were privileged over judicial discretion.

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