Ijtihâd contra Madhab: al-Shawkânî’s View of Ijtihâd and Critique of Madhab
Yamani scholar al-Shawkānī’s view of Islamic legal history was shaped by his understanding of ijtihâd-imitation (taqlîd) and affiliation (intisâb) with a school of law. He fiercely opposed to the idea of ‘closing the gate of ijtihâd’ and criticized imitation and legal affiliation by calling them reprehensible innovations. This article discusses al-Shawkânî’s view of Islamic legal history that he formed on the basis of his understanding of the concepts of ijtihâd and affiliation with a legal school. It will also briefly touch upon the dominant legal perception of scholars and its critique in the pre-Shawkânî period before discussing his understanding of ijtihâd, his opposition to legal imitation and his argumentation in this question. It will then examine his critique of Islamic legal history focusing on his view of the madhabs that had dominated much of this history. Finally, it will discuss his view of the leaders of legal schools, of legal affiliation, the emergence of madhabs and their expansion as well his critique of the followers of legal schools, which together formed the basis of his overall critique of these schools.
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