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HILLI, ALLAMAH IBN AL-MUTAHHAR AL- (1250-1325), scholar and jurist of the Imam! (or Ithna `Ashari) Shi is. Hasan ibn Yusuf ibn al-Mutahhar al-Hilli, known as `Allamah (“most learned”), was born in Hilla in Iraq. His lifetime saw the Mongol capture of Baghdad (1258) and the foundation of the Il-khanid dynasty. The Mongols, contrary to their reputation, permitted, even encouraged, intellectual activity; Hiilegii, for example, founded the observatory and informal academy at Maragha in 1259. `Allamah benefited from this freedom. He probably studied at Maragha with Naslr al-Din al-Tus! (d. 1274), but primarily found his teachers and colleagues in Baghdad, where also he became involved with the Il-khanid court during the reign of Oljeitu (r. 1304-1316). His education covered the usual curriculum, in its Shi’l version, but included significant input from Sunni thinkers.

`Allamah’s writings included works on grammar, logic, hadath, tafslr (Qur’anic commentary), and biography, but his constructive achievement was in the areas of jurisprudence, theology, and polemics. His polemical works (defending the existence, necessity, and historical evolution of the imamate and exemplified in the Minhaj al-karamah) are probably associated with his time at the court of Oljeitu whose religious vacillation encouraged sectarian debate. In the field of theology (kaldm), `Allamah was one of the most distinguished thinkers in the later Mu’tazill tradition, which had been accepted into Imam! Shl’ism in the Buyid period (945-1055) The Kashf al-Murad, `Allamah’s commentary on al-Tfisi’s credal statement, the Tajrid al-i`tuqad, is a representative work. Its technical scholasticism remained a part of the tradition, but was not a key to its significant development; the great achievement of later Shi’! theology is associated with Mulla Sadra al-Shirazi (d. 1641), who drew rather on the philosophical tradition of Ibn Sina (d. 1037) and on the illuminationist theories of Suhraward! (d. 1190). [See also Philosophy.]

In the field of jurisprudence, `Allamah produced works of positive law (fura’) and of hermeneutical theory (usul). In the former area, he continued the work of his teacher Ja’far ibn al-Hasan al-Muhaqqiq al-Hill! (d. 1277). This work was a reformulation of the tradition established by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tus!, Shaykh al-Td’ifah (d. 1068), and reconciled some of the damaging disputes that had emerged in the intervening centuries. `Allamah refined and expanded the-Shi’i corpus of fura’ al figh, notably exploring the range of dispute within the tradition in his Mukhtalaf al-Shi `ah. He perceived that justification and reconciliation within the tradition required a theoretical foundation achievable only within the discipline of usul. His great achievement there, and of his scholarship as a whole, was to integrate the theory of ijtihad into the structures of Imam! Shi’i jurisprudence. `Allamah perceived that ijtihad and its implications (previously rejected by the Shi’is) were not irreconcilable with the reality of interpretative development within Shiism. The theory of ijtihad explained dispute, permitted creative interpretation within the tradition, and justified the authority of the jurists. All subsequent Shi’i thinking in this area can be seen as either a development of or a reaction to `Allamah’s ideas.

Reaction to this thinking is associated with Muhammad Amin al-Astarabadi (d. 1627), who fought against `Allamah’s innovations and inspired the Akhbari movement, which was opposed by the Usfili movement. The Akhbari-Usuli controversy may reflect literalist and rationalist tensions of earlier periods, but it was articulated solely in relation to aspects of the theory of ijtihad. It dominated juristic thinking throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was finally resolved in favour of the Usfilis, whose thinking prevailed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

[See also Akhbarlyah; Ijtihad; Ithna `Asharlyah; and Usuilyah]


Calder, Norman. “Doubt and Prerogative: The Emergence of an Imam! Shi!`i Theory of ijtihad.” Studia Islamica 70 (1989): 57-78. Schmidtke, Sabine. The Theology of al-`Allama al-Hilli (d. 726/1325). Berlin, 1991.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/hilli-allamah-ibn-al-mutahhar-al/

  • writerPosted On: June 10, 2013
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