The Miḥna (trial) of Imām al-Shāfi‘ī (767-820) is a story that was fabricated mainly from the 11th to 13th century. The story was reported by Shāfi‘ī jurists and pro-Shāfi‘ī intellectuals, such as Iṣbahānī (d. 1038-39), Bayhaqī (d. 1065 ca.), Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 1209), Yāqūt (d. 1229), and others. Intriguingly, certain images of al-Shāfi‘ī were constructed in this story. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to clarify how they constructed the images of al-Shāfi‘ī through an analysis of the descriptions of narrative sources of his Miḥna. At the same time a clarification of characteristics of the story of his Miḥna is also an important focus of this study.The description of the Miḥna starts from the time of adolescence, namely his moving from Medina to Najrān in Yemen to assume an official function of state. It goes on his arrest on charges of partisanship with Ḥasanid Yaḥyā ibn ‘Abd Allāh (d. 803 ca.), his deportation to ‘Irāq. Finally, it is concluded by his appearance before the ‘Abbāsid Caliph al-Rashīd (r. 786-809) at Raqqa and generous pardon granted by the Caliph. The main characters in the stories of the Miḥna are al-Shāfi‘ī, Ḥanafī jurists such as Abū Yūsuf (731- 798), Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī (750-805 or 803/4), and Bishr al-Marīsī (d. 833) who was also one of leading figures of the well-known Miḥna of Caliph al-Ma’mūn (r. 847-861), and Caliph al-Rashīd.The climax of these stories is the argument between al-Shāfi‘ī and these figures. In this argument, al-Shāfi‘ī is tested whether he has knowledge about the Qur’ān and the Sunna of the Prophet and many other sciences. In his response, al-Shāfi‘ī demonstrated his superiority over Ḥanafī jurists such as Abū Yūsuf, Shaybānī and Bishr al-Marīsī concerning his knowledge about religious matters such as the Qur’ān and the Sunna of the Prophet and another matter at the presence of Caliph al-Rashīd. In the process, images of al-Shāfi‘ī such as “traditionist” (ahl al-ḥadīth), defender of the Qur’ān and the Sunna of the Prophet, and imām (religious leader) of the Quraysh are constructed.As for the characteristic of the story of the Miḥna, it was countercharges from the side of the ahl al-ḥadīth and the Shāfi‘ī jurists, those who were persecuted by the Miḥna of al-Ma’mūn, against Ḥanafī jurists (ahl al-ra’y, Mu‘tazila) such as Shaybānī and Bishr al-Marīsī, those who played a leading role in the Miḥna of al-Ma’mūn.
In the establishment of Islamic teaching in pre-modern Arab society, the importance of the role played by the preaching has been widely acknowledged among social historians. However, very little is known about the preachers themselves. In this paper, we focus on Abū al-ʻAbbās al-Qudsī (d. 1466), a prominent popular preacher (wāʻiẓ) in the late Mamlūk period (1382-1517), and attempt to reconstruct his career and personality based on contemporary chronicles and biographical dictionaries. He was a very well-known wāʻiẓ in Mashriq cities, especially in Cairo, Jerusalem, and Mecca, and became quite popular among common people — including women — while at the same time winning the sponsorship of a number of notables and ruling elites. Despite his reputation, however, primary sources reveal that some contemporary historians harbored negative views toward him and his preaching. A series of lawsuits were moreover brought against him, and, as a consequence, he was occasionally prohibited from preaching. Such lawsuits were raised by the ʻulamāʼ of the cities in which he was most active. Previous studies have paid little attention to this kind of event, treating them as no more than isolated cases; however, this paper attempts to examine them in a broader social context. For these antagonistic local ʻulamāʼ, it was in their political interests to maintain power for themselves within their regions, and the fact that al-Qusdī had gained patronage from some ruling elites posed a serious threat to their control. Being a wāʻiẓ in that period was to walk on thin ice; the more he literally became “popular,” the more he was exposed to the challenges of antagonistic ʻulamāʼ.
The age of taqlīd, which began around the twelfth century, has been characterized by modern scholars of Islamic law as being rigid and having uncreative legal practices. However, despite the passive name of “taqlīd” (imitation), this age produced new methodologies and notions for creative legal interpretation. Although the “qawā‘id” (legal principles, sg. qā‘ida) represent these new notions, its specific function in legal practice has never been fully examined. In this paper, I will examine five fatwās (legal opinions) in which the qawā‘id are applied so as to clarify how they work in legal decisions.Not only these fatwās illustrate how Muslim jurists use the qawā‘id as a vehicle for legal change, but also they interpret the law with restraint and never abuse it. When Muslim jurists can not find a reasonable solution under the normal rules, they sometimes make a decision according to the qawā‘id such as “attaining benefit (maṣlaḥa),” “averting harm” and “blocking means.” In these cases, Muslim jurists consciously exercise discretion which is legitimated by the qawā‘id and constituted a part of Islamic law in the age of taqlīd. Moreover, as the qawā‘id reflect the goals and purposes of Islamic law (maqāṣid al-sharī‘a), they work as an instrument for securing them in legal practice.The qawā‘id and the conventional uṣūl al-fiqh (Islamic legal theory), which is rich with a distinctive methodology dominated by the literalist tradition, have different approaches to interpretation, but they function harmoniously in practice. It is up to the Muslim jurist to decide how they are used together in an integrated way in a concrete case. Islamic law has been developed in the age of taqlīd to accommodate the diversity of reality so as not to lose its relevance to the practice.
An increasing amount of tafsīr literature has been published during the past few decades in Muslim minority countries such as the United States and South Africa. This paper focuses on some of the interpretations of the Qur’ān that are written in English by contemporary authors of Muslim minority origin. These authors include Amina Wadud, a female African- American convert who wrote Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective; Farid Esack, a male South African who studied in Pakistan and wrote Qur’ān, Liberation & Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective of Interreligious Solidarity against Oppression; and Bilal Philips, a male convert to Islam who is Canadian with Jamaican origins, has written commentaries on some chapters of the Qur’ān, mainly based in Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.This survey focuses on how these writers consider the authority of the mufassir, someone who interprets the scripture, in the framework of history of tafsīr from the classical period onward. This study will begin by discussing the traditional theory of the authority of the mufassir in the field of ‘Ulūm al-Qur’ān, in both Arabic and English. It will go on to investigate the attitudes of these three mufassirs regarding the authority of the status of a mufassir, by examining issues of “identity” and “authority.” I will also focus on the three authors’ interpretations of Q.49:13, which concerns taqwā and pluralism. Based on the discussion of the issues of identity and authority, the view will also consider the transformation of the mufassir in Muslim society in this era of globalization, focusing on their common use of ra’y, or personal opinion, in their tafsīr works, although the ‘ulamā’ have traditionally rejected this as a method of interpreting the Qur’ān.
Zayn al-Dīn ʻAbd al-Bāsiṭ ibn Khalīl, a high-ranking bureaucrat in the fifteenth-century Mamlūk government, founded five madrasahs in Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Mecca, and Medina, all of which were named “Bāsiṭīyah” after the founder’s name. This paper seeks to determine who the founder appointed to posts in his madrasahs, especially those of shaykh of Sufis (shaykh al-taṣawwuf/al-ṣūfīyah), and why he made these choices. Our investigation shows that there were various personal and political reasons behind the founderʼs selection of the shaykhs. When he was still in a relatively low position, ʻAbd al-Bāsiṭ selected a well-known ʻālim (religious intellectual) as shaykh of his Cairene institution in order to burnish its reputation. After his advancement, he appointed his favorites and private staff, some of whom had close ties with the Bārizī family, as the shaykhs of Cairene and Jerusalemite Bāsiṭīyahs. He thus engaged in patronage to reward people close to him and to strengthen his connections with the Bārizī family. In Mecca, on the other hand, he chose prominent scholars of local prominent families for political reasons. In Damascus, he also selected a well-known scholar of a local scholarly family as shaykh, but this selection was based on a private relationship with the family rather than politics. Except in the case of the Medinan Bāsiṭīyah that he newly established for a specific person, he did not take the initiative in the selection of the shaykhs after his downfall. This power had fallen from the founder’s hand and passed to the interested ʻulamā’.
Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad al-ʻAynī, the younger brother of the famous historian Badr al- Dīn Maḥmūd al-ʻAynī, was almost anonymous among the ʻulamā’ society in his days. However, since he left self-reference descriptions in a dozen manuscripts, which he copied and excerpted from his brother’s chronicle, we can, reconstruct his career.Aḥmad learned Islamic knowledge such as Qur’ān recitation and jurisprudence from several masters during his early years, as well as he gained historical knowledge from his brother’s chronicle which he copied and excerpted. However, his lateness of learning, number of masters who taught him, and quality of texts he studied were inferior to those of his brother. Although Aḥmad sometimes demonstrated his knowledge by preaching before local audience and donating manuscripts of his work to a mosque or a school as waqf, he did not take any stipendiary posts, or earn income by using his knowledge. Rather, he exercised knowledge in charity or hoping that blessing would come to him. He was a notable whose prestige was raised by his Islamic knowledge, even though he was considered to be a merchant. His prestigious status gained from knowledge, wealth from commerce, and relationship with his brother provided his son, Qāsim, good educational circumstances.Though Aḥmad might be considered as a less-skilled intellectual in his day, he was not the sole exception of this social group. Aḥmad’s career provides a valuable model, which shows how a non-elite intellectual spent his life.
From the viewpoint of sociological analysis, the social relations of all Muslim societies through Islamic history have been constructed on the basis of norms. More significantly, these norms have been influenced by faith and belief, and these religious norms have also been the ultimate goal for relations between believers. As a result, we can observe a phenomenological level of Muslim society, which is emerging in the dimension of this world (dunyā) in accord with the notion of the next world (ākhira). The key people who are in a position to create a bridge between these two apparently paradoxical ideas are the ‘ulamā’. They regard themselves as “free-floating intellectuals” who exclusively become engaged in holy, and therefore infallible knowledge. From another perspective, however, their position is not always untouched by their economic and political surroundings. They can produce innovative tradition (or traditional innovation), because their knowledge itself is regarded as sacred and firm, although their methodology or practice of it can be on the cutting-edge of a given era or region. How have we reached a situation where the‘ulamā’s knowledge is seen to be as holy and inviolable as ever, but their scientific (or pragmatic) knowledge has fallen behind the times? Society might continue to function on the concrete level of dunyā for some time, but, in these circumstances, it will no longer be under the influence of ākhira.... In this paper, I will pursue a sociological analysis, relying mainly on Ibn Khaldūn’s keen insight concerning religion and society. Through considering the terms: norm (qawānīn), faith / belief (dīn / īmān), and society / community (ijtimā‘ ), I will try to offer a new perspective on existing studies, beyond Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. In accordance with other contributions in this volume, the context of Muslim historical study will be illuminated through an Islamic perspective, without the need to revert to Western criteria.
Recent research on the chronology of the Emar (legal) texts has greatly modified the old framework, arguing for, e.g., the presence of another local dynasty, partial changes in the succession order of the kings, and a chronological discrepancy between the Syrian- and Syro-Hittite-type texts. The present study examines these arguments critically and discusses also other basic issues. It concludes that these arguments should be rejected and instead presents a more reasonable chronological framework (for the period of ca. 1270s-1175 B.C.), with one local dynasty and no discrepancy between the two types of texts, as in the old framework.