• Category Category: L
  • View View: 1686
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1-see Law

2-see sunni school of Law

3-Shi`i Schools of Law Shiism maintained a strong eschatological and legalist tradition through its central doctrine regarding continued divine guidance available through the living imam, whether manifest or concealed. Muslim eschatology taught that the Mahdi among the descendants of the Prophet would come as the ultimate ideal ruler to establish the ideal public order. The Shi’is identified the Mahdi as their imam, and he also served as the authoritative precedent in extrapolating the terms of the Islamic revelation in order to formulate fresh legal decisions. Since the ShMs also believed that the imam like the Prophet was infallible, the imam’s guidance was treated as the living tradition, enjoying the same unequivocal status as that reserved by the Sunnis for the Qur’an and the sunnah (received custom).

Besides the Qur’an and the sunnah as sources for deriving religious praxis, Shi’i legal theorists regarded human reason as an equally decisive basis for determining the scope of divine purposes for humanity.

Shi’i legal thought was closely related to its rational theology in which reason, as a discoverer of a legal injunction, was prior to both sources of Islamic revelation, the Qur’an and the sunnah. Reason guides a person to ethical knowledge, and it asserts that good and evil are rational categories. However, reason needs a more categorical verdict on the religious injunctions, which can be derived only from the absolute religious authority of the Prophet and his legitimate successors, the imams. In practice the role of reason is confined to establishing the correlation between the requirements of al-shar` (the revelation) by extracting the general rules from the Qur’an and the sunnah and inferring the ruling in particular cases through al-`aql (reason). Consequently, besides the Qur’an and the sunnah, the Shi`is included reason as a valid source for the judicial decision that was essentially deduced from the revelation. As for the ijma` (consensus), which in Sunni jurisprudence occupies a decisive status as a a source of legal prescriptions, the Shi’i jurists admitted it as evident only if it included the infallible imam’s opinion, sometimes transmitted by his associates who had participated with him in reaching a consensus. Otherwise consensus lacked authoritativeness for deducing law. The authority of the imam’s utterances was so central to the decision-making process in jurisprudence that even when ijtihdd (independent reasoning) was admitted as a valid intellectual process in deducing judicial decisions, it was reasoning based on revelation and not on the intellect that was regarded as valid.

The major Shi`i legal school with an uninterrupted tradition of jurisprudence is the Ja’fari madhhab. The school derives its name from Abu Ja’far Muhammad alBaqir and Ja`far al-Sadiq (eighth century), the fifth and sixth imams, whose disciples are among the earliest fuqaha’ (jurists) of the Shi`ah. Members of the Ja’fari school (also known as the followers of al-madhhab alkhdmis [“fifth school”], after its accreditation by Mahmud Shaltut, the rector of al-Azhar in Cairo, along with the four Sunni schools in 1959) are Twelver Shi’is-believers in the line of twelve imams, of whom the last one is in occultation and is awaited as the messianic imam, or Mahdi. The other minor Shi i schools of law, such as the Zaydi and the Musta`li Fatimid Isma`iliyah, although sharing the centrality of the Shi`i belief in the imam’s position as the absolute legal precedent, have maintained close affinity with the Sunnis in matters of law. A number of Zaydi jurists, including Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Wazir (d. 1436), Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-San’ani (d. 1768), and Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Shawkani (d. 1839), have argued that their form of jurisprudence, which shares features with Twelver fiqh, constitutes a fifth school of jurisprudence alongside the four Sunni schools. The Musta`li school, resembling in many respects the Twelver praxis, is closer to Sunnism and has retained its symbiotic relation with the Maliki school as formulated by the Fatimid judge Nu’man ibn Muhammad al-Tamimi (d. 974), originally a Maliki himself.

Medina and Kufa were the centers of Shi`i learning under the early Shi`i imams. Rulings of the imams were circulating in the form of hadith reports among the close associates of the imams and were systematically compiled in the tenth century under appropriate juridical rubrics which were established by such Sunni compilers as al-Bukhari and Muslim. The four major compilations of the transmitted material needed to guide the socialpolitical and religious life of the ShMs are: Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni’s Kitab al-kafi; Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babawayh’s Man la yahduruhu al -faqih; and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi’s Tahdhib al-ahkam and Al-istibsar.

These four books are held with same esteem among Shi`is as the six famous Sunni compilations among the Sunnis. However, the most widely used work in the Shi`i tradition is Wasa’d al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (d. 1699), which compiles traditions dealing with all legal topics from the above four books and other Shi’i sources. After the transmitted traditions were epitomized and systematized, they were subjected to the strict discipline of the usul al -fiqh (principles of jurisprudence), which lays down the rules for deriving legal norms. This period of testing was the most productive period of Shi’i jurisprudence, headed by leading Shi’is in eleventh-century Baghdad. The element of the Shi’i jurisprudence that favored reasoning based on the textual evidence provided by the Qur’an and the Shi’i traditions was firmly incorporated into legal theory. Both the method of deducing legal norms and the procedure of reasoning were laid down in the usal works. The profound training of Shi’i jurists in Mu`tazili rational theology, and their own exposition of Shi i theology on the basis of those rational principles, inseparably joined Shl’i jurisprudence to the two fundamental doctrines of Shiism: Justice of God and the imamate.

Ongoing theological debate on the priority of reason over revelation had far-reaching implications for Shi’i law in view of the absence of the infallible imam through his prolonged concealment. In theory, only the Hidden Imam could ascertain that the interpretation of revelation was categorical. With the development of a legal theory that critically examined the documentation used as evidence for rulings, the authority of the akhbar (traditions) could not be maintained without question. Some Shi’i jurists, however, were inclined to accept the authority of the traditions uncritically and tended to be rigid in their juridical rulings. In the seventeenth century Akhbari jurists, who were staunchly opposed to the Usuli methodology based on assigning human reason a substantive-normative role in deriving new decisions, emerged. Toward the end of the seventeenth century the Akhbarl thesis was defeated, and Usuli methodology, with ijtihad as its recognized intellectual process, became the benchmark of Shi’i jurisprudence. Shaykh Murtada al-Ansari (d. 1864) is regarded as the “seal” of the mujtahids for applying the principles of legal theory in deducing laws. Leading ShM jurists, such as Ayatollah Ruhollah al-Musavi Khomeini (1902-1989), who are also regarded as the maraji` al-taqlid (supreme legal authorities) by their followers, were heirs to the Usuli methodology of al-Ansari. Rapid sociopolitical development in the context of modern intellectual currents in the Islamic world, in the years following World War Il, brought about significant change in the general education of Shi f jurists; they began to address some of the problems faced by a modern Shi ah in managing public life. Additionally, the creation of the Iranian Islamic Republic marks a new era in Shi’i jurisprudence. The convergence of the moral-legal and political authority in a modern nation-state under a Shi’i mujtahid has, for the first time, forced Shi’i jurists to provide authoritative guidance to the Shi’ah in the modern world.

[See also Akhbariyah; Isma’lliyah; Ithna `Ashariyah; Marja` al-Taqlid; Shi’i Islam; and Usuliyah.]


Sachedina, A. A. The Just Ruler (al-Sultan al-`Adil) in Shiite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence. New York, 1988.

Tabataba’i, Hossein Modarressi. An Introduction to Shi`i Law: A Bibliographical Study. London, 1984.


see also modern legal reforms

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/shii-schools-law/

  • writerPosted On: July 28, 2014
  • livePublished articles: 768

Most Recent Articles from L Category:

Translate »