Legal Theory

Qiyas: Another Perspective

By Hamid Reza Tamaddon Abstract: In the first centuries of Islam, one of the meanings of the term qiyās is the evaluation of narrations—especially solitary reports (akhbār aḥād)—based on the Qur’ān, Sunna and other evidences. For various reasons, this has sometimes been referred to as qiyās. Therefore, it cannot immediately be considered, as soon as … Read more

Imitating the Infallibles (i)

Reflections & Thoughts | For those interested in this new format called “Reflections & Thoughts”, please read the first two paragraphs in this post. For the latter part of my time in the seminary, I was very much grappling with discussions on ethics and law. These discussions took me to all sorts of literature and scholarship being … Read more

Specification of the Majority – Takhsis al-Akthar

In the Fiqh class of Food & Drinks, lessons 115-117 on March 21st – 23rd of 2020, the principle of Takhṣīṣ al-Akthar – Specification of the Majority – was discussed. Here I wanted to share some points summarized from those lessons. For more details, see volume 3 of Fiqh al-Aṭ‘imah wa al-Ashribah, pgs. 432-446. The … Read more

Sayyid Sistani: What Is Ijtihad?

Translated by Shayan Shirazi The following is a partial translation of Sayyid Sīstānī’s lectures on al-Ijtihād wa al-Taqlīd wa al-Iḥtiyāṭ, as transcribed by Sayyid Muḥammad ʿAlī Rabbānī[1]. It is hoped that it will provide the reader with a primer to the concept of ijtihād as well as insight into Sayyid Sīstānī’s intellectual approach. Discussion One: … Read more

Reflections on Mutawatir Ma’nawi

Reflections on Mutawātir Maʿnawī By Muhammad Baqir Malekian In the terminology of ḥadīth scholars, a mutawātir report is a narration whose chain of narrators in each generation (ṭabaqa) leading up to the infallible is so numerous that it is typically impossible for them all to have intentionally agreed to attribute a lie to the infallible. … Read more

Madhaq al-Shari‘ah (Taste of Shari‘ah) and Ruh al-Shari‘ah (Spirit of the Law)

Madhāq al-Sharī‘ah (Taste of Sharī‘ah) and Rūḥ al-Sharī‘ah (Spirit of the Law) These are transcriptions of lessons 63 to 68 held between December 31st, 2019 to January 8th 2020 in Qom, given by Shaykh Haider Hobollah. These are from the khārij of Uṣūl al-Fiqh on the topic of Maqāṣid al-Sharī‘ah. For a more detailed elaboration … Read more

Discussions on the Use of Ahadith in Tafasir | The Authority of Akhbar al-Ahad (Solitary Narrations)

DISCUSSIONS ON THE USE OF AHADITH IN TAFASIR The Hujjiyat (Authority) of Akhbar al-Ahad (Solitary Narrations) Preamble Although Qur’anic exegetical literature has not always been rampant amongst Twelver Shiʿis, the last century has experienced an explosion of commentaries and works in the field of Qur’anic tafsīr. As such, the field has developed considerably alongside usūl … Read more

Role of a Cause (‘Illah) in Altering the Apparent Meaning of an Obligatory Command & Prohibition

One of the most important disputes in contemporary legal theory discussions revolves around the nature of cause (‘illah) and wisdom (ḥikmah) behind a religious law legislated by Allah (swt). If one can determine the cause for a certain rule, it can have a series of repercussions as changes in time and place can lead to … Read more

The Layman and the Principle of Innocence

Reading Level: Intermediate The following is a translation of a section of a lesson from Ay. Shahidīpour’s advanced jurisprudence classes (link here). In this discussion Shahidīpour touches on the difference of opinion that exists on whether or not the layman is able to apply asālat al-barā’a (hereby referred to as the “principle of innocence”) in … Read more

Perennial Impacts of the Akhbari School on the Usulis

By Muhammad Baqir Malakiyan [Source] Abstract Centuries have passed since the downfall of the Akhbari school, yet we find effects and opinions in the books of the Usulis which we do not ever see before the uprising of the Akhbari school of thought. In fact, these opinions and effects were – literally – what the … Read more

Qiyas & The Mysterious Case of Ibn al-Junayd

These are transcripts written over the course of 5 lessons (lesson 118-122 – April 8th to April 14th 2019) from the advanced lessons on Usul al-Fiqh delivered by Shaykh Haider Hobbollah in Qom. As these are transcripts made in class, for those interested in the more detailed format of this discussion, please refer to the … Read more

Reason and Sharia in Sayyid Sistani’s Thought

By Hamid Reza Tamaddon | Translated by Shayan Shirazi Ayatullah Sistani is one of the few jurists who has attracted the attention of researchers due to some of the similarities that exist in his lessons and ideas with discussions on the philosophy of law, as well as his special consideration of general expediency (maṣlaḥa). This … Read more

The Historicity or Eternality of the Sharia: Observations on a Narration

Hamid Reza Tamaddon [Source] | Translated by Shayan Shirazi The issue of whether legal rulings (aḥkām) are permanent or temporary has always been a topic of discussion and dispute. In recent years[1], it has received more and more attention, under titles such as “the position of time and place in legal deduction (istinbāṭ)”, as a … Read more

The Principle of Justice (Part 2) – Critical Observations on Shaykh Yousef Saanei

Click for Part One. Second Argument: One of the most important arguments for the principle of justice is the intellect itself. The pure rational intellect very clearly attests that all religious laws need to be based on justice, and given that we believe in al-mustaqillāt al-‘aqlīyyah and the ability of the intellect to understand justice … Read more

The Principle of Justice (Part 1) – Critical Observations on Shaykh Yousef Saanei

What follows are transcriptions of 7 lessons from the khārij of Fiqh classes on Jurisprudence of Citizenship Law and Religious Minorities, given by Shaykh Haider Hobbollah. These specific lessons were given between December 30th 2018 to January 8th 2019 – and in my transcription, I have also on occasion made use of the published book … Read more

Book Summary (Part 2): Comprehensiveness of the Shariah

Book Summary (Part 2): Comprehensiveness of the Shariah – Discussions on Extents of Legal Reference Between Intellect and Revelation Click for Part 1 Chapter Three In chapter three, the views of four prominent figures who reject the idea of the comprehensiveness of the Sharī‘ah are discussed and critiqued. The four personalities are Shaykh ‘Alī ‘Abd … Read more

Book Summary (Part 1): Comprehensiveness of the Shariah

Book Summary (Part 1): Comprehensiveness of the Shariah – Discussions on Extents of Legal Reference Between Intellect and Revelation Click for Part 2 Finally got myself to completely read the book Shumūl al-Sharī‘ah (Comprehensiveness of the Shari‘ah – Discussions on Extents of Legal Reference Between Intellect and Revelation) by Shaykh Haider Hobbollah this summer. Though … Read more

The Fixed and Changeable in Islamic Legislation (2)

[Originally posted on Mind in Momentum] Click for part 1. The Authority of Reason in Deducing Religious Laws This is a translation of lessons given by Ayatullah Sayyid Munīr al-Khabbāz attended in the year 2019-20. For the sake of comprehensibility, there has been additions, removals and paraphrases. Original transcripts can be found here. 1 Introduction and Recap … Read more

Sayyid Sīstānī on Why Shīʿa Ḥadīth Contradict (Pt. I)

Originally posted on Shiitic Studies. Introduction The presence of contradictions between Ḥadīth (reports) attributed to the Imams within the Shīʿa corpus is an undeniable problem. One that requires explanation. This is especially so because the problem has a long back-history of being weaponised by detractors seeking to expose the inconsistency between it and the theological doctrine of … Read more

The Fixed and Changeable in Islamic Legislation (1)

[Originally posted on Mind in Momentum]. This is a translation of lessons given by Ayatullah Sayyid Munīr al-Khabbāz attended in the year 2019-20. For the sake of comprehensibility, there have been additions, removals and paraphrases. Original transcripts can be found here. I will also include comments and questions that have struck my incapable mind along … Read more

Evaluating the Impact of Taqiyya (Dissimulation) On Shi’i Narrations

Below is a partial translation of the transcripts of Ayatullah Syed Ali Hussaini al-Sīstānī’s bahth al-khārij discussions on the topic of conflicting narrations.[1] Regarding the effects of Taqiyya on the written corpus of narrations, Syed Sistani discusses the various views regarding the extent to which the current narrations we have today can be attributed to … Read more

Reconciliation of Contradictory Traditions Regarding Someone Who Intends to Sin

In his discussion on tajarrī (temerity to commit a crime, or false obedience) Shaykh Anṣārī (1781-1864) briefly deals with two sets of apparently contradictory narrations on the issue of someone who intended to commit a sin, but they did not. I have previously posted a treatment of one of these traditions by Sayyid Shubbar over … Read more

Ways of Discovering ‘Illah (Cause) for Qiyas Amongst Ahl al-Sunnah

During last academic year’s (2018-2019) legal theory class with Shaykh Haider Hobbollah, before beginning discussion on Maqāṣid al-Sharī’ah (Objectives of Divine Law) as expounded by the Ahl al-Sunnah, it was imperative to understand qiyās as explained and applied by the Ahl al-Sunnah jurists. This is because discussions on Maqāṣid began within discussions on qiyās, until … Read more

Does Sheer Quantity of Hadith on a Subject Indicate Its Importance?

The following is an expanded transcript from advance lessons on Expediency (al-maṣlaḥa) and Purposes of Islamic Law (al-maqāṣid al-sharʿīyyah) being delivered by Shaykh Ḥaider Ḥobbollah in Qom. An article comparing the views of Imām Ṭufī and Imām Khomeynī from the same class was posted a few weeks ago. In lesson 67 (January 6th, 2019) and … Read more

Did Imam Khomeini Have the Same View as Imam Tufi?

One of the classes I’m attending this year are lessons on legal theory focusing on Expediency (al-maṣlaḥa) and Purposes of Islamic Law (al-maqāṣid al-sharʿīyyah). These lessons are being delivered by Shaykh Ḥaider Ḥobbollah in Qom. Over the first 50-odd lessons, a general outline of the discussion was covered, followed by an extensive discussion on the … Read more

The Principle of “Laws are Subordinate to Benefits & Harms” in Imami Shi’i Legal Theory and its Implications in Non-Ritualistic Law

The Principle of “Laws are Subordinate to Benefits & Harms” in Imāmī Shī’ī Legal Theory and its Implications in Non-Ritualistic Law Click here to read the paper. Acknowledgement Foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my dissertation advisor Dr. Wasti of The Islamic College. His input and important suggestions were highly valuable … Read more

Muhammad Amin Astarabadi’s Argument Against Probativity of Intellect in Non-Necessary Matters of Religion

In a previous post we looked at the general critique Shaykh Anṣārī (d. 1864) hurls at the Akhbārīs, in his treatise on certainty (qaṭ’). Thereafter, he begins to cite passages from a few major Akhbārī scholars, namely Astarābādī (d. 1623-24 or 1626-27), Sayyid Jazāirī (d. 1701) and Yūsuf Baḥrānī (d. 1772) and offers his critique on them. … Read more

Concerning Probativity of Certainty Acquired Through Intellectual Premises – Shaykh Ansari’s Response to the Akhbaris

Translation of the words of Shaykh Anṣāri (d. 1864): You are aware that there is no difference in certain knowledge which is a mere uncovering, with respect to the causes of that knowledge. However, it has been attributed to more than one of our companions from the Akhbārīyīn, that certainty attained from intellectually certain preliminaries … Read more

Principle of Istishab and Its Types

This article was published on the Shiapedia, a website that was run by Shaykh Abd al-Hakeem Carney (d. 2007). After his demise, the domain and hosting services were not renewed and the website vanished. Soon after his death, someone had backed up his entire website and I had downloaded all the articles – around 60-70 … Read more

The Legal Value of Reason in Islamic Law

This article was written by Shaykh Abd al-Hakeem Carney (d. 2007) and was originally published on a website he was running called Shiapedia. After his demise, the domain and hosting services were not renewed and the website vanished. Soon after his death, someone had backed up his entire website and I had downloaded all the articles … Read more

Introduction to The Position of Theological Foundations in Ijtihad

The following is a translation of the introduction to Jāyegāh Mabāni Kalāmi dar Ijtihād by Dr. Sa’īd Dhiyāi’far. It is a 1,024-page research work which has surveyed 1,079 different (traditional and contemporary) jurisprudential and theological works exploring the various theological (kalāmī) foundations underpinning ijtihād and jurisprudence. Throughout the work, the author attempts to illustrate the … Read more

The Principle of Leniency in Evidences for Non-Obligatory Acts and its Jurisdiction

The Principle of Leniency in Evidences for Non-Obligatory Acts and its Jurisdiction – The View of Shi’a Jurists from the Occultation to the Fourteenth Century After Hijra By Syed Mohammad Hadi Rizvi [vc_custom_heading text=”Abstract” use_theme_fonts=”yes” el_id=”abstract”] This research looks at the highly influential principle that advocates applying leniency in accepting evidences for non-obligatory acts. It … Read more

Difference Between al-Shubha al-Ḥukmīyyah and al-Shubha al-Mawḍū’īyyah

Jurists and scholars of legal theory divide uncertainty into two: 1) those that concern a law (al-shubha al-ḥukmīyyah), and 2) those that concern the subject or an instance of a law (al-shubha al-mawḍū’īyyah). Perhaps the simplest way these two uncertainties can be explained is through the following three perspectives: 1. The Root of Uncertainty The … Read more

The Effect of Akhbāri Domination over Shi’ī Thinking – Sayyid Kamāl al-Ḥaydari

Taken from Syed Kamal al-Haydari’s Dars Khārij of Usūl, 4 Safar, 1435 (7th December 2013) Translated by Sadiq Meghjee When the Usūli scholars decided to challenge the Akhbāri school they assumed that Akhbārism only held sway over the furu’ dīn and at the most was linked to jurisprudence. On this basis they gave everything in … Read more