independent judgement


independent judgement
(ijtihad)
   Etymologically related to the term jihad (effort, striving), ijtihad is a legal concept that has to do with exerting oneself or exercising independent judgement. The history of ijtihad (also sometimes referred to as ra’y, or ‘considered opinion’) is somewhat stormy in the Islamic tradition: by the early third/ninth century the legal scholar al-Shafi‘i had restricted its legitimate application to reasoning by analogy (qiyas) and by the end of that century there was a growing consensus among the various legal schools that the gate of ijtihad was closed. That is, most scholars believed the big questions had essentially been settled and independent reasoning in law was either unnecessary or required more knowledge than contemporary jurists could reasonably be expected to amass. Thus its opposite, taqlid (obedience, following, imitation), became the norm in jurisprudence and the representative legal scholar was a muqallid (follower, imitator) rather than a mujtahid (independent thinker). However, this view has not gone unchallenged: a wide range of figures, from Ibn Rushd and the Arab modernists to the Twelver Shi‘ites and Isma‘ilis, to Ibn Taymiyya and the Salafis, have argued forcefully in defense of ijtihad.
   Further reading: Hallaq 1997, 2005; Schacht 1964/83

Islamic Philosophy. . 2007.

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