In the context of legal, theological and philosophical disputation, taqlid denotes unquestioning acceptance of authority without proofs or reasons, that is; blind submission to, or imitation of, a master or school. Although western Orientalists and modernist Muslim thinkers have sometimes characterized the Islamic tradition as having an immature and counterproductive dependence upon authority, this term typically has a negative connotation within the tradition itself and is applied by a wide range of diverse thinkers to their adversaries. Although it might be applied to a traditionalist by one who valorized independent judgement (ijtihad) or considered opinion (ra’y) or reason (‘aql), traditionalists themselves (e.g. Zahirites, Hanbalites, Ash‘arites, etc.) commonly used it as a disparaging term in describing and attacking more rationalist opponents (e.g. al-Ghazali’s critique of the philosophers). In theological matters at least, one is hard pressed to find figures that explicitly advocate taqlid. In the realm of jurisprudence, the case is somewhat different, especially regarding the question of independent judgement. There taqlid has found many advocates, albeit in the context of generally nuanced debates about when and why and to what extent it is acceptable and even necessary for the less learned or experienced to accept the authoritative opinions of specialists and predecessors.
   Further reading: Hallaq 1997, 2005; Schacht 1964/83

Islamic Philosophy. . 2007.


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