Month: November 2013

Reflections of Humanity, by Ali Shariati

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Debates on the definitions of culture versus barbarism, or on the question of who is civilized and who is modern are best discussed in light of islamic doctrine.  Quite significantly, this point must be kept in mind, particularly as a matter of concern to individuals of the educated classes of Islamic societies upon whom lies the burden of responsibility and leadership of the Umma.

Modernity is one of the most delicate and vital issues confronting us, the people of non-European countries and Islamic societies. A more important issue is the relationship between an imposed modernization and genuine civilization. We must discover if modernity as is claimed is a synonym for being civilised, or if it is an altogether different issue and social phenomenon having no relation to civilisation at all. Unfortunately modernity has been imposed on us, the non-European nations, in the guise of civilization.

For the past 150 years, the West has undertaken the task of modernizing men with missionary zeal. All non-European nations were put in close contact with the West and western civilization and were to be changed to ‘modern’ nations. Under the guise of civilizing nations, acquainting them with culture, they presented us with this modernity, (when I say “us”, I mean the non-European and third world nations), which they persisted in calling “ideal civilization”. Our intellectuals should have understood years ago and made people realize the difference between civilization and modernity. But they failed to do so. Why did the educated not notice this issue during the 150 years of western modernization of their nations? I will discuss their failure in this paper later.

Before any further discussion I should like to define certain terms on which I intend to concentrate, which, if left ambiguous, should render the discussion vague. After explaining the terms, I shall address myself to the subject.

1. Intellectual: An everyday term frequently heard in Iranian society and in all societies, European or otherwise. What does it really mean? Whom do we name intellectual? Who are the intellectuals, and what is their role and responsibility in their own societies?

An intellectual is one who is conscious of his own “humanistic status” in a specific social and historical time and place. His self-awareness lays upon him the burden of responsibility. He responsibly, self-consciously leads his people in scientific, social and revolutionary action. (See also “From Where Shall We Begin” and “The Intellectual and his Social Responsibilities” by Dr. Shariati for further discussion on this).

2. Assimilation: This is at the root of all the troubles and constraints facing the non-Western and Muslim countries. Applies to the conduct of an individual who, intentionally or unintentionally, starts imitating the mannerisms of someone else. A person exhibiting this weakness forgets his own background, national character and culture or, if he remembers them at all, recalls them with contempt. Obsessively, and with no reservation, he denies himself in order to transform his identity. Hoping to attain the distinctions, and the grandeur, which he sees in another, the assimilator attempts to rid himself of perceived shameful associations with his original society and culture.

3. Alienation: The process of forgetting or becoming unfamiliar with or indifferent to one’s self. That is, one loses the self and directs perceptions from within another person or thing. This grave social and spiritual illness manifests itself in many different shapes and forms and depends on many factors. One factor alienating a human being is the tools with which he works. Sociology and psychology report that a man, during his lifetime gradually tends to forget his real, independant identity as he increases his contact with a certain tool or profession more and more every day. He begins perceiving his tools in place of his selfhood.

For instance, in a person who deals with nuts and bolts every day from 8a.m. to 6 p.m. all feelings, thoughts, affections and personality will gradually become suspended. He must perform a certain mechanical task continually. Possibly an assembly belt runs in front of him and he is ordered to skip two nuts and twist the third nut once. This man, who has diverse emotions, aptitudes, thoughts, tastes, tensions, hatred, feeling and talent, becomes a body which skips two nuts and twists the third one once most of his time, during his working hours, which is also the time when he is most active and energetic. He becomes an instrument, simply a piece of equipment for production and his effort is confined to a monotonous job which he must do day after day, and in so doing, suspend all the characteristics which make up his personality.

The best among many examples of such situations was given by Charlie Chaplin in a famous film, “Modern Times”, in which he plays a man originally free from any attachment or obligations, with all his desires, emotions, feelings, excitements and needs. He feels love for his sweetheart, respect for his parents and sympathy for his friends. He enjoys sitting and chatting with others, partaking of their normal customs, and exhibits a normal variety of fears, hopes, talents and responses. For instance, when he sees his mother, he displays feelings towards her as if he had not seen her for a long time. When he meets a friend from the past, he wants to spend some moments with him talking about what happened, about life and the good old days. He feels love and affection when he sees his sweetheart; he feels hatred and rancour boil when he sees his enemy. He wants to fight, attack him and gain revenge. He is a human being, with complex needs and expectations. He enjoys a good view and hates seeing a depressing one, just as a normal, free man might be expected to.

Then he goes to work in a huge and complicated factory whose functioning he cannot even conceive. He neither knows what the factory produces nor what synchronizes its many diverse elements. He applies in an office, fills out some forms and then is told to report to Mr so and so. Then, he is taken through a hall and into a room. A man comes along and tells him what to do. And just what is his job? Here is what his job is all about: there is a big hall used as a place for an assembly line where a huge metal belt constantly moves. The belt comes in from one side of the hall and goes out the other to other sections of the assembly line. He does not know where the belt comes from and where it goes and why it does so. Seven or eight workers are standing there beside each other. His job is to skip two nuts on the moving tape and twist a third nut once. And again he is to skip two and twist the third, and this he has to repeat over and over during his 10 hours of work. Then the bell rings and his day of work is over. He goes home without knowing what the nuts were and why he did what he was told to do, where they came from and where they went to and what they were used for. He cannot understand this job at all. Beside him stand the 7 or 8 other workers; they cannot even speak to each other because the belt is moving at such a speed that if he tries to find out about the worker next to him, and neglects the moving belt, he will miss the third nut, the whole factory will stop, and he will be punished or fired.

This man must be all eyes to watch the nuts. The work that he performs, this human being, is to twist the nuts once or twice and that is all. But a human being is a creature with certain characteristics. First of all, he must know the purpose of his work, and secondly, he must do a job in order to achieve a particular goal. He chooses the goal, and then, once chosen, he creates a job as a means toward that goal. He then begins during the job, to touch and feel the essence of his purpose. A certain goal and a chosen outcome limits one’s work, and eventually one achieves the goal. Apart from seeking a goal while he works, being aware of the job, the man is a human with diverse feelings and urges.

Charlie Chaplin, in the role of this particular worker, sees his mother, fiancée and friend, who have come to see him in the factory. He is not yet accustomed to the rough and monotonous system of machinery; he is not broken in yet. While he is working, suddenly he sees his mother, fiancée or friend, and putting down his tools, leaves his job behind to go to say “Hello . . .. how are you?” “Where have you been?”” It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. I missed you . . . sit down, let’s have a cup of tea and. . . .”

Suddenly he sees policemen rushing in, red lights on, alarm bells ringing, inspectors coming in. What has happened? The factory control system has reported that one single nut has been skipped without being twisted, and everything has come to a standstill. “What have you done?!”” How could you?!” He is arrested, blamed and punished for his negligence.

A momentary manifestation of a simple and natural human sentiment in him causes the system of machinery to break down. This clearly illustrates that in the present system there is not the slightest room for expression of a human sentiment. However, they train and control this very man who once had feelings and emotions until he becomes like a machine, too, and after 20 years of work the phrases “a human is a rational being,” and “a human is a worshipping animal” and “a human is self-conscious and creative animal” and similar phrases normally used to apply to a human, no longer apply to him.

What has this man, after all, become? He is now a “nut twister animal” who skips two and twists the third nut once. On the street when this man sees a policeman with buttons like nuts on his uniform, he immediately takes out his wrenches to tighten them. He sees a woman with decoration on her hat or coat: immediately it comes to his mind to go and twist it once or twice or whatever! For him the whole world is summarized in the phrase, “Skip two and twist the third.” That is his philosophy, identity, reality and title to being a human. Why does he twist? In order to eat. Why does he eat? In order to twist! A circular man!

This man no longer perceives himself as the being who once had varied sentiments, desires, needs, weaknesses, sensibilities, memories and virtues. Those have tumbled down and he has become, in the words of Marcuse, a “one-dimensional man.” But Shondel calls him a “circular man” who produces for the sake of production.

This man who once was a little world, a microcosm, like God and with the attributes of God, has now been reduced to an extension of a wrench; which is to say that the character of the machine, of the bolts and of the mechanical motion, has penetrated him. He no longer considers himself as such and such, the son of so and so, from such and such a family, such and such a race and background, with such and such peculiarities. Rather he perceives himself and his reality as nothing more than part of a machine.

Alienation may sometimes become a serious mental ailment requiring the attention of a psychoanalyst. At its highest degree of intensity, it may necessitate confinement in an asylum. Alienation, which affects men through mechanical and dehumanized discipline, may be caused by bureaucracy and technology as well. As one of the sociologists put it, either Max Weber or Marcel Moose, in a complicated bureaucracy where there are many booths, all numbered, the man who has been working in, say booth 345, for 20 or 30 years and has been doing the same job for that long, generally considers himself as booth 345, rather than one having any other name or title. People address him as “booth 345” and think of him as “booth 345.” And the general feeling that he is not attached to anything except “booth 345” generates in him a feeling that he is “booth 345” not Mr so and so, the son of so and so, with such and such characteristics. Such is the alienation caused by bureaucracy.

Alienated, as a word, means being possessed by a ‘spirit’, or in Persian, a “Jinn.” People believed in such ‘spirits’ in the past, and when a person became insane, they believed that the ‘spirit’ had possessed him and affected his brain. They thought that the ‘spirit’ had ejected his intellect and taken its place, so that the possessed no longer felt himself human but was rather an evil being. The word today means a type of sickness described by psychologists and sociologists.

As men were possessed by ‘spirits’ in the old days, today a man is reduced to the position of a cog in a strict, monotonous and ruthless bureaucracy due to perpetual contact with a certain mechanical tool. He no longer feels and comprehends his individuality; he has “lost” himself. As they used to believe that a “jinn” possessed man’s spirit and made him insane, so today, means of production, tools and his type of work, possess him and control his spirit. They gradually obliterate his true personality and fill it instead with the characteristics of machine tools, job routine, bureaucratic hierarchy, and eventually he begins to identify himself with these.

There is another kind of “control by jinns” which possesses humanity and alienates a person or an entire class from itself. This type of alienation is more real, more frightening, and more damaging, and it is this . . . omnipresent form of alienation which affects us, the Iranians, Muslims, the Asians, and Africans. It is not an alienation caused by technology – we have not been alienated by machines. No machine is involved, nor any bureaucracy. A few administrative departments with a limited personnel are in no position to alienate any one. Nor has the Bourgeoisie reached the stage from which it could alienate us. Rather, what we are at grips withis something extremely unpleasant and dangerous – “cultural alienation.”

What does “cultural alienation” mean? As we have already mentioned, alienation, in any shape or form, indicates a condition in which one does not perceive himself as he is, but rather perceives something else in his place. A man in this condition is alienated. What he conceives himself as is not his real self at all, and whether it be as money or as machine or as booth 345, his conception makes no difference at all and depends only on luck or taste.

What is culture? I am not going to quote the differing definitions of culture here. However defined, culture includes a collection of intellectual, non-material artistic, historical, literary, religious and emotional expressions (in the form of signs, traditions, customs, relics, mores) of a nation which have accumulated in the course of its history and acquired unique form. They signify the pains, desires, temperaments, social characteristics, life patterns, social relations and economics structure of a nation.

When I feel my own religion, literature, emotion, needs and pains through my own culture, I feel my own self, the very social and historical self (not the individual self), the source from which this culture has originated. Therefore, culture is the expression and super-structure of the real being of my society, actually the whole history of my society. But certain artificial factors, probably of a dubious nature, creep into a society which has well defined social conditions or social relations, developed through a specific historical framework, and aquaint it with pains, sufferings, emotions and sentiments which have an alien spirit and are a product of a different past, a different society (different both socially and economically). These artificial factors wipe out any real culture and substitute a false culture suitable for different conditions and an altogether different historical stage, a different economy, and a different political and social setup. Then, when I wish to feel my own real self, I find myself conceiving another society’s culture instead of my own and bemoaning troubles not mine at all. I groan about cynicism not pertinent to cultural, philosophical and social realities of my society. I then find myself harboring aspirations, ideals and anguishes legitimately belonging to social, economic and political conditions of societies other than mine. None the less, I treat these desires, ideals, and anguish as if they were my own.

Another culture has alienated me. The dark skinned man of Africa, the Berber of North Africa, the Persian and Indian in Asia, each has a particular past and unique present. However, they feel inside particular pain and concern which they regard as their own, but which are actually offshoots of problems of periods following the Middle Ages, the 16th Century renaissance, 17th Century liberalism, the scientific progress of the 18th century, and the ideologies of the 19th century and the capitalist societies that came into being after World Wars 1 and 2.

So, African, Asian people, how does it concern you? Which problem do you have that causes you so much concern regarding its existence, solution, feeling, and reaction? It is as if I had a foot pain and put it down to nerves! Why? Because I associated with people I think more intelligent, polished, respectable and wealthy than myself, and they have “nervous disorders.” Rather than admitting that my foot aches, and seeking medication for, let’s say, corns; I seek a psychiatrist for the “nervous disorder” to which I attribute my pain.

My conceptions of myself are not as I actually am in reality, but as “they” are; that is, I am alienated. Is it not ridiculous to have, in a society with so much starvation and general feelings, desires and behaviour resembling those of present day Americans, English or French? The latter is surfeited with an excess of delicacies and pleasures and lacks purpose and goals. He wants rest and seeks peace. He is sick of the strict discipline imposed on him by the machine. He groans and complains of the discipline and order which have caused him so much distress. But I, suffering from the lack of technology, am yet groaning and complaining of distresses caused by technology! It’s as if we were run over by a car, had broken our arms and a leg, had blood all over our face and head; and yet, we empathize and feel for the person behind the wheel, who is fed up with having to drive and run over people!

In this way non-European societies become alienated by European societies: their intellectuals no longer feel Eastern, groan like an Eastern person or aspire to be Eastern people. The intellectual does not suffer because of his own social problems, rather he conceives of the pain, sufferings, feelings and needs of an European in the final stage of capitalistic and materialistic success and enjoyment. Thus, today the most painful disorder possible sweeps non-European countries, the psychological disorder of non-Europeans who possess a unique character and yet deny it. They hold in mind something alien. They conceive of someone else and imitate him blindly.

These non-European countries in the past were real and genuine. If you had visited these countries, say 200 years ago, they would have lacked today’s Western Civilization, but each and every one of them had its own authentic and solid civilization. They were unique: their desires, their delicacies, their forms of worship and all their good and bad behaviour; their action, their beauties, their philosophy, their religion – everything belongs to them. For instance, if I had gone to a country like India or any African country, I would know that they had their own unique tastes and buildings. They composed their own unique poetry, pertinent to their culture, and relevant to their lives. They had their own unique social manner. They had their own unique colors, maladies, desires and religions. All they had was their own. In spite of the fact that they were far below the level of present day civilization and material enjoyment, still, what they had, however trifling, was their own. They were not sick, poor they were, but poverty is something different from sickness.

But today, western societies have been able to impose their philosophy, their way of thinking, their desires, their ideas, their tastes and their manners upon non-Europeans countries to the same extent that they have been able to force their symbols of civilization (technological innovations) into these countries which consume new products and gadgets; countries which can never adjust themselves to European manners, longing, tastes and ways of thinking.

As Alined Yope, one of the greatest black intellectuals, puts it: “societies have come into being outside the European civilization – like our societies – which are “mosaic societies.” What does he mean by “mosaic societies”? A mosaic contains hundreds of colored tiles with different shapes and colors, all pressed in a mold. What shape do these tiles make? None! A mosaic has different colors and is composed of different pieces of gravel with different shapes, but in sum has no shape. Some civilizations, too, are mosaic civilizations. That is, civilizations which carry some leftover parts from the past, some deformed parts from Europe, and the combination of the two produces a half-civilized, half-modernized society. It is a mosaic also in that we did not choose the same materials as the Europeans to make a civilization for ourselves, because we did not know what a civilization was and how to form it. It is they who gave us the form, as well.

So without knowing what to make and without having any prior intention of how to form our society according to our own tastes and thoughts, and without knowing how to integrate different parts, or properly taking from here and there according to pre-planning, we started putting together different parts and elements to build a modern but formless society with no aim or goal. In the distorted result we find parts from everywhere, some native, some European, some old-fashioned and some modern – all piled up in shapeless, aimless confusion, and in result, creating a shapeless, aimless society as well. Such societies are non-European societies which, during the last century, have been able to get their construction materials from the West, in the name of civilization.

What is the origin of the emergence of this mosaic civilisation (or what I would call camelopard societies) in non-European countries which have no special shape and no fixed goal? It is not clear what kind of societies they are; their people and intellectuals cannot understand what they live for, what their goal is, what their future holds and what their ideology contains.

The machine emerged and developed during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Europe in the hands of the capitalists and the rich. The machine has the characteristic of the need for constant increase in production when it is working. This is the machine’s coercion. If it does not increase its production with 10 or 11 years, it will die out, it cannot continue to function and cannot compete with other machines. Why? Because if it does not increase its production, other machines, producing the same merchandise on a larger scale, can sell it cheaper. Therefore, the production of the obsolete machine stagnates. The machine must produce more and more to be able to pay more to labor and to put products in the market more cheaply than its competitors. Science and technology have contributed to the development of the machine and improved its efficiency. This development has changed the face of humanity today. We should not consider it as one of the problems emerging in the world today; rather, strictly speaking, there is no other problem but this, which has been before us for the last two centuries. From it grow all the other problems facing the world today.

The machine must increase its production progressively each year. Therefore, to avoid stock-piling, it must also progressively create the necessity of continuous consumption. However people’s consumption does not increase at the same rate as does production. A certain society may have 30% increase in its paper consumption in 10 years and 300%, or tripling, of its paper production. Ten years ago machines produced 5 kilometers of paper per hour and today produce 50 kilometers per hour, while paper consumption has not risen and cannot rise to that extent.

So what is to be done about excess production or surplus? What is to be done with the extra piles of paper? New fields of consumption must be provided. Each European country has a special and particular taste and a fixed consumption; their populations do not exceed 40 to 60 million. The frantic production rate, rising constantly, exceeds the desires of people to consume. They can’t keep up! Thus since the machine has compulsively produced excess goods, it must step over it’s national boundary and push goods into foreign markets. When the capitalists gained control of machinery, technology and science in the 18th century, humanity’s destiny was determined. Every single human on the face of the earth would be coerced into becoming a consumer for the produced merchandise. European markets became saturated rapidly; consequently the surplus goods had to go to Asia and Africa. Asians and Africans had to consume the surplus European products.

Can these products actually be taken to the East, whose pattern of life does not require them, and force their consumption? Impossible! When you enter an Asian society you notice that the Asian’s clothing is made by his wife or in a native workshop. They wear traditional garments. There is no demand here for the products of factories which make machines, or “high fashion” clothes, or the “modern” fabrics of Europe. In an African society we will notice that their desires, interests and joys are confined to horse-riding and appreciation of the grace of their horses. They lack highways, drivers, ideas of machines, and the need for any of these. In their style of life their production is equal to their consumption, which is consistent with their traditions, tastes and necessities. For them, therefore, an automobile, as any other European product, is entirely redundant.

European factories produced an ever-increasing quantity of luxury goods and sought for them a market in Asian and African countries. It was out of the question to expect Asian and African men and women to use these products in the 18th century or even the 19th even if the products had been furnished free. They had other enjoyments; they had their own special native adornments. An African or Asian woman had no need for European cosmetics and no need for trinkets to beautify herself and dress up. She already had her own cosmetics, her own materials and make-up. She would use them and all would admire her. Nor would she feel any need for a change.

As a result of her attitude, the capitalist’s merchandise remained unsold. People with this way of thinking, with unique necessities and tastes, who have their own life style and produce their own necessities, were not the type of people who would consume the products of 18th century European capitalists. So what to do? The problem was to make people in Asia and Africa consumers of European products. Their societies must be structured so they would buy European products. That meant changing a nation literally. They had to change the nation, and they had to transform a man in order to change his clothing, his consumption pattern, his adornment, his abode and his city. What part of him to change first? His morale and his thinking. Who could change the spirit of a society, the morale of a society and the way of thinking of a nation? In this respect, there was little the European capitalist, engineer or producer could do. Rather, it was the business of the enlightened European intellectuals to plan a special method of perverting the mind, the taste and lifestyle of the non-European, not in a way that he himself chooses, – since the change he desires might not necessitate the consumption of European products – rather his desires, his choices, his suffering, his sorrow, his tastes, his ideals, his sense of beauty, his tradition, his social relations, his amusements – all must be changed so that he is coerced into becoming a consumer of European industrial products. So the big producers and big European capitalists of the 18th and 19th centuries let the intellectuals handle this project.

This was the project: all the people of the world must become uniform. They must live alike. They must think alike. Practically, it is impossible for all the nations to think in the same way. What structural elements go into the personality and spirit of a man and nation? Religion, history, culture, past civilization, education and tradition. All of these mentioned are the structural elements of a man’s personality and spirit and, in its general term, of a nation. These elements differ from one society to another. They result in one form in Europe, another in Asia and in Africa. They all have to become the same. The differences in thinking and spirits of the nations of the world must be destroyed in order for men to become uniform. They must conform, wherever they are, to a single pattern. What is this pattern? The pattern is provided by Europe: it shows all Easterners, Asians, Africans, how to think, how to dress, how to desire, how to grieve, how to build their houses, how to establish their social relations, how to consume, how to express their view, and finally how to like and what to like. Soon it is realized that a new culture called “modernization” was presented to the whole world.

Modernity was the best method of diverting the non-European world, from whatever form and mould of thinking, from their own mould, thought and personality. It became the sole task of Europeans to place the temptation of “modernization” before the non-European societies of any complexion. The Europeans realized that by tempting the inhabitant of the East with a compulsive desire for “modernization”, he would cooperate with them to deny his own past and desecrate and destroy with his own hands the constituents of his own unique culture, religion and personality. So the temptation and longing for “modernization” prevailed all across the Far East, Middle East, Near East and in Islamic and Black countries – and to become modernized was regarded as becoming like the Europeans.

Strictly speaking, “modernized” means modernized in consumption. One who becomes modernized is one whose tastes now desire “modern” items to satisfy his wants. In other words, he imports from Europe new forms of living and modern products, and he does not use new types of products and a lifestyle developed from his own original and national past. Non-Europeans are modernized for the sake of consumption. Westerners, however, could not just tell others they were going to reshape their intellect, mind and personality for fear of awakening resistance. Therefore, the Europeans had to make non-Europeans equate “modernization” with “civilization” to impose the new consumption pattern upon them, since everyone has a desire for civilization. “Modernization” was defined as “civilization” and thus people cooperated with the European plans to modernize. Even more than the bourgeois and capitalist, the non-European intellectual labored mightily to change consumption patterns and lifestyles in their societies. Since the non-Europeans could not produce the new products, they became automatically dependant upon the technology which produces for them and expects them to buy whatever it produces.

While studying in Europe, I heard of an automobile factory that advertised high-paying jobs for sociologists and psychologists. I was looking for a job, and besides I became very interested in knowing why a car factory needed sociologists and psychologists. So I went there for a job interview with the man in the public relations department. He asked me, “Perhaps you are wondering why we are recruiting sociologists while we usually hire mechanical engineers and the like?” I said yes. He brought out a map of all of Asia and Africa and pointed to some cities, telling me that in some there was a great demand for the cars and many customers but that in others there was no demand. He continued: “We can’t find out why there is no demand from engineers. It is the sociologists’ task to find out what these people like and why they don’t buy cars, so we can change the color or design of the cars, if possible, and if not, make them change their taste.” Then he gave me an example of European sociologists’ success in modernizing a certain tribe.

He showed me a wooded and mountainous area on the bank of the Chad River in Africa where many long-nomadic tribes lived. People there did not wear clothes and kept cattle for a living. He pointed out some areas where a group of people lived around the tribal chief’s castle. They had no schools, no roads or highways, no clothes and no houses. They lived in tents. Then he told me that the chief of this semi-wild village had parked two modern Renaults with gold trim in front of his palace.

“These natives were only interested in horses originally. The person who possessed the best horse was the most well-known and envied. Everyone tried to raise the best horse as a means of self-glorification and achieving dominance. As long as this kind of consciousness predominated in the tribe,” the car employer told me, “no-one would buy a car. Rather, all of them would continue to buy horses, and we do not produce any horses. So we tried to think of a way to make the natives buy the automobiles we produce in Europe.”

“The women of the tribe make themselves up attractively with preparations made of gum and sap from the forest, and everyone likes their style. Happy with their local culture, folk dance and native food, it is obvious that no women in the tribe will buy Christian Dior cosmetics nor would the men buy Renaults. Europeans never even tried to sell them anything. But eventually a development allowed the European sociologists an opportunity to change the taste of the natives. The chief of the tribe used to tie two beautiful horses with his best hunting dog in front of his headquarters, and now we have changed his taste. We have modernized him: instead of tying up his horses in front of his place, now, he takes pride in parking there the two Renaults with golden trim.”

I asked him with surprise: ” But they don’t have any roads?” “They have built a temporary 8 kilometer road,” he said.

“When the chief of the tribe first bought the car, every morning he would take a ride and all the people of the tribe would gather and watch the car. He did not know how to drive, so he hired one from here. The driver worked for him eight months and received a handsome salary. There were no gas stations near the tribe, so the gas was bought from far distances by boat.”

So the goal of the capitalist was not really to civilize this tribe but to modernize it. The chief who was proud of his horse and was a horse rider is now proud of his car and enjoys driving it. The chief of the tribe, like many other Asians or non-Europeans, has become modernized but one must really be naive to judge superficially that he has become civilised as well.

Modernization is changing traditions, mode of consumption and material life from old to new. People made the old ways; machines produce the new. To make all the non-Europeans modernized, they first had to overcome the influence of religion, since religion causes any society to feel a distinctive individuality. Religion postulates an exalted intellectuality to which everyone relates intellectually. If this intellect is crushed and humiliated, the one who identifies himself with it feels also crushed and humiliated. So native intellectuals began a movement against “fanaticism”. As Franz Fanon says: “Europe intended to captivate the non-European by the machine. Can a human or society be enslaved by a machine or certain European product without taking away or depriving him of his personality?” No, it can not. The personality must be wiped out first.

Since religion, history, culture, as a totality of intellect, thought, amassed art and literature give personality to a society, they all have to be destroyed, too. In the 19th century I would feel as an Iranian that I was attached to a great civilization of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th centuries of Islam which was unparalleled in the world and had the whole world under its influence. I would feel that I was attached to a culture, more than 2000 years old, which in various forms and shapes, had created new intellectualism, new art and literature in the world of humanity. I would feel that I was attached to the Islam that was the newest, the most sublime and the most universal religion, creating all those intellectualities and dissolving all those different civilizations in itself to create a greater civilization. I would feel attached to the Islam which created the most beautiful spirit and the most sublime face of humanity, and I could also feel, as a human, that I had a unique personality in the eyes of the world and every person in it. So how could they convert such an “I” into a gadget whose only function is to consume new products?

They would deprive him of his personality. He must be dispossessed of all the “I’s” he feels within. He must be forced to believe himself related to a humbler civilization, a humbler social order, and accept that European civilization, Western civilization and the Western race are superior. Africa must believe that an African is a savage, so that he is tempted to become “civilized” and put himself readily into the hands of the Europeans who will determine his fate. The poor man does not realise that he is being modernized instead of being civilized. That is why we see that all of a sudden in the 18th and 19th centuries the Africans were described as savages and cannibals. Those Africans who had dealt with the Islamic civilisation for centuries were never known as cannibals. Suddenly the Black African becomes a cannibal, has a special smell, has a special race. The grey part of his brain does not work, and the forepart of his brain, like the Asian’s, is shorter compared to the Westerner’s!

Even their doctors and biologists have ‘proven’ (!) that the Westerner’s brain has an extra gray peel, which Easterners and Blacks lack!! They also have ‘proven’ that the Westerner’s brain has an additional length to the genes in the brain cells which allows him to think better than a non-Westerner! Then we see that a new culture was built on a basis of “Western superiority” and “the superiority of its civilization and its people”. They made us and the world believe that the European was exceptionally talented mentally and technically, whereas the Easterner had strange emotional and gnostic talents and the Negro was only good for dancing, singing, painting and sculpture.

Consequently, the world was divided into three distinct races: one which can think, that is, the European(!) (right from the days of ancient Greece up to now!) and the one which can only feel or make poetry, the Easterner, who has only mystical and gnostic feelings, and the Black, who can dance, sing and play good jazz.

Then this very way of thinking, which was introduced to the world to justify the need for modernizing the non-European nations, became the basis of thought for the non-European elites as well. We see how they created a conflict between the “modernized” and the “old-fashioned” in non-European societies for 100 years; a conflict which was, and still is, the most senseless fight one has ever seen.

Modernization in what? In consumption, not in mind. Old fashioned in what? In the form of consumption. It was natural that the fight ended in favor of modernization, and even if it had ended otherwise, it would not have been to the benefit of the masses. In this fight, the fight between the modernized and civilized, the European was the leader. In the name of civilization, the campaign for modernization was carried on, and then for 100 years, for more than 100 years, the non-European societies themselves strove to become modernized under the leadership of their sophisticated intellectuals.

Let us consider the genesis and composition of this class of intellectuals. Jean Paul Sartre in the preface to “The Wretched of the Earth” points out: “We would bring a group of African or Asian youth to Amsterdam, Paris, London……for a few months, take them around, change their clothes and adornments, teach them etiquette and social manners as well as some fragment of language. In short, we would empty them of their own cultural values and then send them back to their own countries. They would no longer be the kind of person to speak their own mind; rather they would be our mouthpieces. We would cry the slogans of humanity and equality and then they would echo our voice in Africa and Asia, “-manity”,”-quality.”

These were the persons who convinced people to lay aside their orthodoxy, discard their religion, get rid of native culture (as these had kept them behind the modern European societies) and become westernized from the tip of the toe to the top of the head!

How is it possible to become Europeanized through export and exchange? Is civilization a product that one can export and import from one place to another? Of course not ; but modernity is the collection of modern products which can be imported by a society within a period of 1,2 or 5 years. A certain society can be completely modernized within a few years. Likewise an individual could also become throughly modernized, even more modernized than the European himself. You can change his mode of consumption and he becomes modernized. That is exactly what the Europeans were expecting.

But it is not so simple to civilise a nation or a society. Civilization and culture are not European-made products whose ownership makes anyone civilized. But they made us believe that all modernization nonsense was a manifestation of civilization! And we eagerly threw away everything we had, even our social prestige, morality and intellect, to become thirsty suckers of what Europe was eager to trickle into our mouths. This is what modernity really means.

Thus a being was created devoid of any background, alienated from his history and religion, and a stranger to whatever his race, his history and his forefathers had built in this world; alienated from his own human characteristics, a second-hand personality whose mode of consumption had been changed, whose mind has been changed, who had lost his old precious thoughts, his glorious past and intellectual qualities and has now become empty within. As Jean Paul Sartre puts it: “In these societies an “assimilae”- meaning a quasi-thinker and quasi-educated person – was created, not a real thinker or intellectual.”

A real intellectual is one who knows his society, is aware of it’s problems, can determine its fate, is knowledgeable about its past and who can decide for himself. These quasi-intellectuals, however, succeeded in influencing the people. Who were these quasi-intellectuals in non-European societies? They were intermediaries between those who had the products and those who had to consume the products. A mediator who, aquainted both with the Europeans and with his own people, eased the way of colonization and exploitation.

That was why they created native intellectuals who did not dare to choose for themselves, who don’t have the courage to maintain their own opinions and who cannot decide for themselves. Such persons came to be deemed mean and inferior to the extent that when asked about the flavor of their food, the music they listen to, the clothes they wear, they do not have the conviction to say whether they like or dislike them. This is because it is no longer they who decide. They have to be told that such and such a dress is worn in Europe, and so they can like it. They are told that a particularly bitter food, which to them tastes like poison, is eaten in Europe and, therefore, they can eat it, even if it does not suit their taste. They eat it anyway because the Europeans eat it; they lack the courage and assurance to say they dislike it.

In Europe and America, when people go to a place where jazz is being played and they don’t like it, they just say so bluntly, and loudly. But in Eastern countries no one can be brave enough to say “Jazz is bad and I do not like it.” Why? Because they have not left him enough personality and human value to let him choose the color of his dress and the flavor of his food. As Fanon says: “In order for Eastern countries to be the followers of Europe and imitate her like a monkey, they should have proven to the non-Europeans that they do not possess the same quality of human values as the Europeans do. They should have belittled their history, literature, religion and art to make them alienated from all of it. We can see that the Europeans did just that.”

They have created a people who do not know their own culture, but still are ready to despise it. They know nothing about Islam but say bad things about it. They cannot understand a simple poem but criticize it with poorly chosen words. They do not understand their history but are ready to condemn it. On the other hand, without reservation they admire all that is imported from Europe. Consequently, a being was created who, first became alienated from his religion, culture, history and background, and then came to despise them. He was convinced he was inferior to the European. And when such a belief took root in him, he tried and wished to refute himself, to sever his connections with all the objects attached to him and somehow make himself like a European, who was not despised and looked down upon, and at least be able to say, “Thank God I am not an Easterner since I modernized myself sufficiently to reach the level of a European.”

And while the non-European is happy with the idea that he has been modernized, the European capitalist and bourgeois laugh at their success in converting him into a consumer of their surplus production.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ali Shariati (Persian: علی شريعتی‎) (23 November 1933–1977) was an Iranian revolutionary and sociologist, who focused on the sociology of religion. He is held as one of the most influential Iranian intellectuals of the 20th century and has been called the ‘ideologue of the Iranian Revolution’.

Ali Shariati (Ali Mazinani) was born in 1933 in Kahak (a village in Mazinan), a suburb of Sabzevar, found in northeastern Iran. His father’s family were clerics. His father, Mohammad-Taqi, was a teacher and Islamic scholar, who opened in 1947 the ‘Centre for the Propagation of Islamic Truths’ in Mashhad, in the Khorasan Province, a social Islamic forum which became embroiled in the oil nationalisation movement of the 1950s.  Shariati’s mother was from a small land-owning family.

In his years at the Teacher’s Training College in Mashhad, Shariati came into contact with young people who were from the less privileged economic classes of the society, and for the first time saw the poverty and hardship that existed in Iran during that period. At the same time he was exposed to many aspects of Western philosophical and political thought. He attempted to explain and provide solutions for the problems faced by Muslim societies through traditional Islamic principles interwoven with and understood from the point of view of modern sociology and philosophy. His articles from this period for the Mashhad daily newspaper, Khorasan, display his developing eclecticism and acquaintance with the ideas of modernist thinkers such as Jamal al-Din al-AfghaniMuhammad Iqbal, among Muslims and Sigmund Freud and Alexis Carrel.

In 1952, he became a high-school teacher and founded the Islamic Students’ Association, which led to his arrest after a demonstration. In 1953, the year of Mossadeq’s overthrow, he became a member of the National Front. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mashhad in 1955. In 1957 he was arrested again by the police, along with 16 other members of the National Resistance Movement.

Shariati then managed to obtain a scholarship for France, where he continued his graduate studies at Sorbonne University in Paris. He worked towards earning his doctorate in sociology, leaving Paris after getting a PhD certificate in sociology in 1964 from Sorbonne University. During this period in Paris, Shariati started collaborating with the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) in 1959. The next year, he began to read Frantz Fanon and translated an anthology of his work into Persian. Shariati would introduce Fanon’s thought into Iranian revolutionary émigrée circles. He was arrested in Paris during a demonstration in honour of Patrice Lumumba, on 17 January 1961.

The same year he joined Ebrahim YazdiMostafa Chamran and Sadegh Qotbzadeh in founding theFreedom Movement of Iran abroad. In 1962, he continued studying sociology and history of religions, and followed the courses of Islamic scholar Louis MassignonJacques Berque and the sociologist Georges Gurvitch. He also came to know the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre that same year, and published in Iran Jalal Al-e Ahmad‘s book Gharbzadegi (or Occidentosis).

He then returned to Iran in 1964 where he was arrested and imprisoned for engaging in subversive political activities while in France. He was released after a few weeks, at which point he began teaching at the University of Mashhad.

Shariati then went to Tehran where he began lecturing at the Hosseiniye Ershad Institute. These lectures proved to be hugely popular among his students and were spread by word of mouth throughout all economic sectors of the society, including the middle and upper classes where interest in Shariati’s teachings began to grow immensely.

Shariati’s continued success again aroused the interest of the government, which arrested him, as well as many of his students. Widespread pressure from the populace and an international outcry eventually led to his release after eighteen months in solitary confinement, and he was released on 20 March 1975.

Shariati was allowed to leave the country for England. He died three weeks later in a Southampton hospital under ‘mysterious circumstances’ although in Ali Rahnema’s biography of Shariati, he is said to have died of a fatal heart attack. Shariati is buried next to his beloved Zaynab in Damascus, Syria, where Iranian pilgrims frequently visit.

Shariati developed a fully novel approach to Shiism and interpreted the religion in a revolutionary manner.  His interpretation of Shiism encouraged revolution in the world and promised salvation after death.  Shariati referred to his brand of Shiism as “red Shiism” which he contrasted with clerical-dominated, unrevolutionary “black Shiism” or Safavid Shiism. His ideas have been compared to the Catholic Liberation Theology movement founded in South America by Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez and Brazilian Leonardo Boff.  One of the products of his thought was the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) that was founded in 1965.

Shariati’s most important quote: “In Ershad conferences I showed that generally speaking Iranian culture was formed after the conquest of Arabs. Our national clergy also was not able to find any bit or shred of evidence of Iranian culture and progress prior to Arab conquest.”  Shariati’s works were highly influenced by the Third Worldism that he encountered as a student in Paris — ideas that class war and revolution would bring about a just and classless society — from one side, and the Islamic puritanism (or the Islamic Reformation) movements of his time from the other side. He is said to have adopted the idea of Gharbzadegi from Jalal Al-e Ahmad and given it “its most vibrant and influential second life.” 

He sought to translate these ideas into cultural symbols of Shiism that Iranians could relate to. He believed Shia should not merely await the return of the 12th Imam but should actively work to hasten his return by fighting for social justice, “even to the point of embracing martyrdom“, saying “everyday is Ashoura, every place is Karbala.” Shariati had a dynamic view about Islam. His ideology about Islam is closely related to Allama Iqbal‘s ideology; for example, according to both intellectuals, change is the greatest law of nature and Islam.


The Principle of Ijtihad in Islam

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 By Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Translated by John Cooper. This translation was carried out during the period of tenure of a Fellowship of the British Institute of Persian Studies, for which the translator would like to express his gratitude.)

The article hereunder translated into English, first appeared in the collectionBahthi dar bara­yi Marja`iyat wa Ruhaniyat 1, which was reviewed by Lambton 2. This volume contained essays by figures that were then prominent in the anjumanha­yi islami, an organization of groups with a religiously educated leadership concerned to initiate public debate of, and interest in, Islamic solutions to contemporary political, economic and social problems.

The occasion for the publication of this volume was the death of the marja ‘al taqlid of his time, Ayatullah Burujirdi, in 1961, and the discussions contained therein dealt with various aspects of taqlid and the religious institutions. Summaries and discussion of the articles will be found in Lambton.

Most of the authors subsequently became leading names in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Mahdi Bazargan, who had had both a religious and a secular education and had been influential among the younger generation as a professor at the University of Tehran and later as a politician, became the first Prime Minister of the new Islamic Republic’s provisional government.

Ayatullah Taliqani was an active revolutionary figure who had spent much time in SAVAK prisons. He was particularly well known in Tehran where he commanded much respect. He died in the early morning of 10 September 19793. Sayyid Muhammad Bihishti became the first head of the Islamic Republican Party, as well as Chief Justice of the post ­revolutionary High Court; he held both posts until his assassination in the bombing of the Party headquarters on 29 June 1981. Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i was much weakened by illness by the time of the revolution, but was held in universal esteem for his piety and learning. He died on 15 November 1981.

All these figures, except `Allama Tabataba’i were also important members of the Revolutionary Council, which had been set up by Ayatullah Khumayni during his stay in Paris. The author of the present article, Murtadha Mutahhari, had been appointed head of this Council by Ayatullah Khumayni, and it was he who had first convened it. After the victory of the revolution, the Council continued to play an extremely important role in the course of events, even after the setting up of the provisional government, indeed right up to the formation of the new Majlis.

Murtadha Mutahhari was born in a village some forty kilometres from Mashhad in 1338/1919-­20. After a primary education mostly at the hands of his father, he entered, still a child, the hawza­yi `ilmiya, the traditional educational establishment, of Mashhad, but he soon left for Qum, the centre for religious education in Iran. Even during the time of his elementary studies there he was greatly affected by the lessons in akhlaq (Islamic ethics) given by Ayatullah Khumayni, which Mutahhari himself described as being in reality lessons in ma`arif wa sayr­u­suluk (the theoretical and practical approaches to mysticism) 4, and he later studied metaphysics (falsafa) with him as well as jurisprudence (usul al­fiqh).

He was especially attracted by falsafa, theoretical mysticism (`irfan) and theology(kalam), the “intellectual sciences”, and he also studied these subjects with `Allama Tabataba’i. His teachers in law (fiqh) were all the important figures of the time, but especially Ayatullah Burujirdi, who became the marja` al­taqlid, and also head of the hawza­yi `ilmiya of Qum, in 1945.

Murtadha Mutahhari studied both fiqh and usul al­fiqh in the classes of Ayatullah Burujirdi for ten years. He was also deeply affected at about this time by lessons on Nahj al-Balagha 5 given by Mirza `Ali Aqa Shirazi Isfahani, whom he had met in Isfahan. He later said that, although he had been reading this work since his childhood, he now felt that he had discovered a “new world”.6 Subsequently, Mutahhari became a well known teacher in Qum, first in Arabic language and literature, and later in logic (mantiq), usul al­fiqh, and falsafa.

In 1952, Murtadha Mutahhari moved to Tehran, where, two years later, he began teaching in the Theology Faculty of the University. Not only did he make a strong impression on students, but his move to Tehran also meant that he could become involved with such organizations as the anjuman ha­yi islami. These Islamic Associations were groups of students, engineers, doctors, merchants, etc., set up during the fifties and sixties; they formed the nucleus of the movement that was to become, eventually, the revolution.

He was also a founder member of the Husayniya­yi Irshad, which played a central role in the religious life of the capital during the four years of its existence until its closure by the authorities in 1973 7. At the same time he maintained his contact with traditional religious activities, teaching first in the Madrasa­yi Marvi in Tehran, and later back in Qum, and also preaching in mosques in Tehran and elsewhere in the country.

Through his lectures and writings – articles and books – he became a famous and much ­respected figure throughout Iran, but it was mainly among the students and teachers of the schools and universities that he was most influential, setting an example and inspiring them as a committed and socially aware Muslim with a traditional education who could make an intellectually appropriate and exciting response to modern secularizing tendencies. His wide-ranging knowledge and scholarship are reflected in the scope of his writings, which cover the fields of law, philosophy, theology, history and literature.8 He was also one of the few high-ranking `ulama’ to be in continuous contact with Ayatullah Khumayni during the fifteen or so years in which the movement which led to the revolution was developing. He was actively engaged in all the stages of this movement.

His life came to an abrupt and untimely end when he was shot in the street by an assassin after a meeting of the Revolutionary Council on the evening of 1 May 1979. Animated mourning accompanied his funeral cortege from Tehran to Qum, where he was buried near the shrine of the sister of the eighth Shi`i Imam.

The discussion of taqlid had been important in the wake of Ayatullah Burujirdi’s death for the reasons given by Lambton. A solution to the problems posed in those articles was never achieved, and events subsequently altered the whole structure of the discussion, but the issues raised did open important new areas for thought. As a result of the revolution, the question of wilayat al­faqih came to the fore, and taqlid became the subject of even greater public concern.

As long as taqlid had been restricted in the common understanding as applying only to matters which belonged to the rubrics of the collections of fatwas issued by the marja`s, the only real debate took place within the legal classroom; but during the seventies, and hand in hand with the reawakening of political sensibilities, the boundaries of fiqh were seen by the public to expand and encompass new territory. The definition of these new frontiers was a source of some confusion, and hence of heightened interest, and, in the great post revolutionary surge of printing, the Burujirdi volume was re­issued.

Taqlid had long been a socially important element in Iranian society, and in Shi`i society in general, for it united people, at least as inhabitants of the same universe of duties and obligations, under their marja`s, but the events leading up to the revolution demonstrated the power that the marja`s could command through, among other means, their issuing of proclamations (`ilamiyas); this was reminiscent of the mobilization of the Iranian people during the tobacco protest of 1891-­2, and during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-11.

The following article is presented as a description of taqlid and ijtihad by a leading contemporary Shi`i mujtahid who strove to make Islam comprehensible to the modern Iranian and to find answers to the problems of his time within the Islamic framework. The text has been left in its entirety; there were no footnotes in the original.

“It is not for the believers to go forth all together; but why should not a party of every section of them go forth, to become learned in religion, and to warn their people when they return to them, that they may beware.”(9:122) 9

What is ijtihad?

The question of ijtihad is a very topical one these days.10  Many people ask, either aloud or to themselves, what form ijtihad takes in Islam, and from where Islam got the concept. Why should one practice taqlid? What are the conditions for ijtihad? What are the duties of a mujtahid?

Broadly speaking, ijtihad has the meaning of being an authority in the matters of Islam; but there are two ways of being an authority and deriving opinions in the matters of Islam in the eyes of us Shi`i Muslims: one which is in accordance with the shari`a, and one which is forbidden by it. Similarly, taqlid is of two kinds: one which is in accordance with the shari`a, and one which is forbidden.

The kind of ijtihad which is forbidden by the shari’a

Now, the kind of ijtihad which, in our opinion, is forbidden is that which means “legislating” or “enacting the law”, by which we mean that the mujtahid passes a judgment which is not in the Book (the Qur’an) or the Sunna, according to his own thought and his own opinion – this is technically called ijtihad al­ra’y.  According to Shi`i Islam, this kind of ijtihad is forbidden, but in Sunni Islam it is permitted. In the latter the sources of legislation, and the valid proofs for determining the shar`ia, are given as the Book, the Sunna and ijtihad. The Sunnis place ijtihad, which is the ijtihad al­ra’y explained above, on the same level as the Book and the Sunna.

This difference takes its origin in the fact that Sunni Muslims say that the commands which are given in the shari`a from the Book and the Sunna are limited and finite, whereas circumstances and events which occur are not, so another source in addition to the Book and the Sunna must be appointed for the legislation of Divine commands – and that source is the very same as we have defined as ijtihad al­ra’y.

Concerning this matter, they have also narrated hadiths from the Prophet, and one of them is that when the Prophet sent Mu`adh b. Jabal to the Yemen, he asked him how he would issue commands there. He replied: “In conformity with the Book.” “And if it is not to be found in the book?” “I will make use of the Sunna of the Prophet.” “And if it is not to be found in the Sunna of the Prophet?”Ajtahidu ra’ yi,  he replied, which means: I will employ my own thought, ability and tact. They also narrate other hadiths in connection with this matter.

There is a difference of view among Sunni Muslims as to what ijtihad al-ra’y is,and as to how it is to be conceived. In his famous book, the Risala11 which was the first book to be written on the principles of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al­fiqh),(…) al-­Shafi`i insists that the only valid ijtihad according to hadith is qiyas[reasoning by analogy]. Qiyas, briefly, is the taking into account of similar cases, and ruling in a case from one’s own opinion by comparing it with these other similar cases.

But some other Sunni fuqaha [experts in fiqh, sing.: faqih] did not recognize ijtihad al­ra’y as being exclusively qiyas; they also counted istihsan [“finding the good” by one’s own deliberations] as valid. Istihsan means to see, quite independently, without taking similar cases into account, what is nearest to the truth and to justice, and to give one’s opinion according as one’s inclination and intellect approve.

Similarly with istislah [determining what is in the interests of human welfare by one’s own deliberations, which means the seeming of one thing as more expedient than another, and ta`awwul in which, although a ruling may have been reached in one of the nusus [the textual bases for a precept of the shari`a sing.:nass], in a verse from the Qur’an or in a hadith from the Prophet, one still has the right, for some reason, to dispense with the contents of the nass and to give priority to one’s own independent opinion (ijtihad al­ra’y).

Each of these requires explanation and a detailed account, and the Shi`i­ Sunni debate is relevant to such an account. Many books have been written both for and against this idea, viz., that ijtihad is on a par with textual evidence, and the best of them is the treatise written recently by the late `Allama, the Sayyid Sharaf al­-Din, called al­Nass wa l­Ijtihad12.

Now, according to Shi`i Muslims, such a kind of ijtihad is not permitted by the shari`a. In the view of Shi`i Muslims and their Imams, the first basic principle of this matter, i.e., that the rulings of the Book and the Sunna are not adequate and that it is therefore necessary to practice ijtihad al­ra’y, is not correct. There are many hadiths relevant to this discussion, and, in general, [they tell us that] there exist rulings for every eventuality in the Book and the Sunna.

In al­Kafi13after the chapter on bid`a [innovation] and maqa’is[measurements], there is a chapter with the title: “Chapter on referring to the Book and the Sunna – and there is no halal [permitted thing] or haram [forbidden thing] or anything which the people need which does not come in the Book or the Sunna.” The Imams of the ahl al­ bayt have been known since the earliest days as opponents of qiyas and ra’y.

Of course, the acceptance or nonacceptance of qiyas and ijtihad al­ra’ y can be studied from two angles. Firstly, from the aspect from which I have looked at it; that is to say, we count qiyas and ijtihad al­ra’y as one of the sources of Islamic legislation, and place it alongside the Book and the Sunna, and say that there are cases which have not been ruled upon by revelation and which mujtahids must explain using their own opinion. Or alternatively, [we can study it] from the aspect that ( . . . ) qiyas and ijtihad al-ra’y [are a means for deriving the real rulings, just as we use the other ways and means such as khabar al­wahid.14  In other words, it is possible to perceive qiyas as either a substantive (mawdu`iya)[element in law], or a methodological (tariqiya) [principle].

In Shi`i fiqh, qiyas and ra’y are invalid in both of the above senses. In the first sense, the reason is that we have no ruling which is not given in the Book and the Sunna; and in the second case, the reason is that qiyas and ra’y are kinds of surmise and conjecture which lead to many errors. The fundamental opposition of Shi`i and Sunni legists in the matter of qiyas is in the first sense, although the second aspect has become more famous among the scholars of usul (the principles and methodology of fiqh).

The right of ijtihad did not last for long among the Sunnis. Perhaps the cause of this was the difficulty which occurred in practice: for if such a right were to continue [for any great length of time], especially if ta`awwul and the precedence of something over the texts were to be permitted, and everyone were permitted to change or interpret according to his own opinion, nothing would remain of the way of Islam (din al­ islam).

Perhaps it is for this reason that the right of independent ijtihad was gradually withdrawn, and the view of the Sunni `ulama became that they instructed people to practice taqlid of only the four mujtahids, the four famous Imams – Abu Hanifa [d.150/767], al-­Shafi`i; [d.204/820], Malik b. Anas [d.179/795] and Ahmad b. Hanbal [d.241/855] – and forbade people to follow anyone apart from these four persons. This measure was first taken in Egypt in the seventh hijri century, and then taken up in the rest of the lands of Islam.

Ijtihad permitted by the shari’a

The word ijtihad was used until the fifth hijri century with this particular meaning, i.e., with the meaning of qiyas and ijtihad al­ra’y, a kind of ijtihad which is prohibited in the eyes of the Shi`a. Up to that time, the Shi`i `ulama included a chapter on ijtihad in their books only because they wanted to refute it, to emphasize that it was null and void, and to prescribe it, as did the Shaykh al-­Tusi in some of his works.

But the meaning of this word gradually extended beyond this specific meaning, and the Sunni `ulama themselves began not to use ‘ijtihad’ in the specific sense of ijtihad al­ra’y, [as a source] which was on the same level as the Book and the Sunna. [Such a shift in the meaning of the word can be seen with] Ibn Hajib 15 in his Mukhtasar al­usulon which `Adud al­Din al­Iji wrote a commentary known as al­`Adudi, and which has been till recently, and maybe still is, the authoritatively approved book on [Sunni] usul, and before him with al-­Ghazali 16 in his famous work al-­Mustasfa.

It then became used rather in the unqualified sense of effort or exertion to arrive at the rulings of the shari`a, and was defined as “the maximum employment of effort and exertion in deducing the rulings of the shari`a from the valid proofs(adilla, sing, dalil, see below ). However, it is another matter to decide what the valid proofs of the shari`a are: whether qiyas, istihsan, and so forth, are among them or not.

From this time onwards, the Shi`i `ulama also adopted this word because they accepted this [general] meaning. This kind of ijtihad was a kind approved by the shari`a. Although the word had originally been one to be avoided among the Shi`a, after its meaning and the concept it denoted had undergone this change, their `ulama, discarded their prejudice and subsequently had no reservations about using it. It seems that in many instances the Shi`i `ulama, were careful to consider unity of method and conformity among Muslims as a whole. For example, the Sunnis came to recognize ijma` (consensus of opinion among the`ulama) as a proof leading to certainty, and, in practice, they also held it to be fundamental and substantive (mawdu`i) just like qiyas, whereas the Shi`a did not accept it. However, to protect the unity of method, they gave the name ijma` to a principle which they did accept 17. The Sunnis said that the valid proofs were four in number: the Book, the Sunna, ijma and ijtihad (qiyas); the Shi`a said the valid proofs were four: the Book, the Sunna, ijma` and `aql (reason). They merely substituted `aql for qiyas.

At any rate, ‘ijtihad’ gradually found a wider meaning, i.e., the employment of careful consideration and reasoning in reaching an understanding of the valid proofs of the shari`a. This, of course needs a series of sciences as a suitable preliminary basis on which to develop the ability to consider and reason correctly and systematically.

The `ulama of Islam gradually realized that the deduction and derivation of the precepts from the combined valid proofs of the shari`a necessitated [the learning] of a series of preparatory sciences and studies such as the sciences of literature, logic, the Qur’anic sciences and tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis), the science of hadith and the narrators of hadith (rijal al-­hadith), the science of the methodology of usul al­fiqh, and even a knowledge of the fiqh of the other sects of Islam. A mujtahid was someone who was a master of all these sciences.

I think it extremely likely, though I cannot state this categorically, that the first person among the Shi`a to use the words ijtihad and mujtahid [positively] was the `Allama al ­Hilli.18 In his work “ Tahdhib al­usul”, he puts the chapter on ijtihad after the chapter on qiyas, and there he uses the word in the same sense in which it is used today.

We can therefore say that] the ijtihad which is forbidden and rejected in the eyes of the Shi`a is ra’ y and qiyas, which were originally called ijtihad, whether this is counted as a source of the shari`a and as an independent basis for legislation, or taken as a means for deriving and deducing true precepts; whereas the ijtihad which they deem correct according to the shari`a is that which means effort and exertion based on expert technical knowledge.

In answer to the question: what is the meaning, the use and the place of ijtihad in Islam, it can thus be said that it is ijtihad in the meaning that it is used today, i.e., competence and expert technical knowledge. It is obvious that someone who wants to refer to the Qur’an and hadith must know how to explain the meaning of the Qur’an, he must know the meaning of the verses, which verses abrogate which verses, which ones have clear meanings and which ones ambiguous meanings 19 – and he must be able to distinguish which hadith is valid and authoritative and which not.

In addition, he must understand, on the basis of correct rational principles, incompatibilities between hadiths to the extent that it is possible for him to resolve them, and he must be able to distinguish the cases in which the `ulama of the Shi`a sect have consensus (ijma`). In the verses of the Qur’an themselves, and similarly in the hadith, a series of general principles [for verification and interpretation] are laid down, and the use and exercise of these principles need training and practice, just as in the case of all other basic principles in every science.

Like the skilled technician who knows which material to choose from all the materials available to him, the mujtahid must have proficiency and ability. In hadith, especially, there is a great deal of fabrication, the true and the false are mixed together; the expert must have the power to distinguish between them. In short, he must have enough preliminary knowledge so that he can exercise competence, authority and technical expertise.

The appearance of the Akhbaris in Shi’i Islam

Here we must mention an important and perilous current which first appeared around four centuries ago in the Shi`i world over the question of ijtihad –Akhbarism. If a group of the `ulama had not been forthright and challenged it, and had not taken a stand against this current and destroyed it, there is no knowing in what position we should be today.

The actual school of the Akhbaris is no more than four centuries old. Its founder was a man by the name of Mulla Muhammad Amin al­Astarabadi [d. 1033/1624], who was, personally, a gifted man who found many followers among the `ulama’. The Akhbaris themselves claimed that the original Shi`is, up to the time of the Shaykh al­Saduq 20, were all followers of the Akhbari doctrine, but the truth is that Akhbarism as a school with basic postulates did not exist more than four centuries ago.

These postulates were: the denial of the possibility of arriving at certainty through exercising reason (`aql); the denial of the validity and the proof (dalil) of the Qur’an on the pretext that the understanding of the Qur’an lay exclusively in the hands of the Prophet’s ahl al­bayt, and that our duty is to consult the hadith of the ahl al­bayt [for its interpretation and understanding]; the assertion that ijma` was the innovation of the Sunnis; the assertion that, of the four valid proofs (adilla),i.e., the Book, the Sunna, ijma` and `aql, only the Sunna is able to lead to certainty, the assertion that all the hadith that appear in the “four books”“ are true and valid, and of categorical provenance [from the Imams] (qat`i al­sudur).

In his book, ”`Uddat al­Usulthe Shaykh al­Tusi mentions a group of former Shi`i scholars under the name of the “Muqallida”, and adversely criticizes them; but they had no school of their own, and the reason that the Shaykh called them “Muqallida” was that even in the fundamentals of dogma tics (usul al­din) they constructed their proofs with hadith.21

At any rate, the school of the Akhbaris took its stand against the school of ijtihad and taqlid. They denied the legal competence, jurisdiction and technical expertise that the mujtahids believed in; they considered taqlid of anyone else than the ma`sumin 22 to be illegal. According to them, only the hadith are authoritative, and since there is no right of ijtihad or deriving of opinions, people must necessarily have recourse directly to the texts of the traditions and act upon them, no scholar calling himself a mujtahid or a marja` al­taqlid 23 can act as an intermediary.

Mulla Amin al­Astarabadi, the founder of this school, and personally a very gifted man, learned and well traveled, wrote a book called al-Fawa’id al­Madaniya in which he went to war with the mujtahids with astonishing stubbornness. He particularly tried to refute the principle of the authority of `aql. He claimed that it was only a proof in matters which had their origin in the senses, or which were related to sensory objects (such as in mathematics), and that in matters other than these it was inadmissible as a proof 24

It so happens that this idea was practically contemporary with the appearance of empirical philosophy in Europe. The latter denied the validity of pure reason, and al­Astarabadi denied its validity in religion. Now where did he get this idea? Was it his own original idea, or did he get it from elsewhere? We cannot say.

I remember that in the summer of 1322 [Sh./1943] I went to Burujird, and at that time the late Ayatullah Burujirdi was still living there, not yet having come to Qum. One day, the talk was of this idea of the Akhbaris, and he criticised it, saying that the appearance of this idea among them was the effect of the wave of empiricism that had arisen in Europe. I heard this from him at that time. Afterwards, when he came to Qum, and his lessons in usul al­fiqh reached this topic, i.e., the validity of certainty as a proof (hujjat al qat`), I was waiting to hear this opinion again from him, but unfortunately he did not say anything about it.

Now, I cannot say if this had only been a conjecture which he had voiced, or whether he had evidence, but I, myself, have not till now found any evidence for it, and I feel it is extremely unlikely that empirical thinking had then reached the East from the West. However, against this is the fact that Ayatullah Burujirdi never spoke without evidence. I now regret that I never asked him for an explanation at the time.

The struggle with Akhbarism

In brief, Akhbarism was a movement in opposition to `aql. An amazing ossification and inflexibility ruled in their doctrine. Fortunately, some discerning individuals like Wahid Bihbihani 25, famous as “Aqa”, whose descendants are even now known as “Al­i Aqa (Family of Aqa)”, and his pupils, and afterwards the late Shaykh Murtadha al­Ansari26, took a stand and fought against this doctrine.

Wahid Bihbihani lived in Karbala.27 At that time, the author of the Hada’iq28 an erudite Akhbari, was also in Karbala, and both of them had a following of students. Wahid was a follower of the doctrine of ijtihad, and the author of theHada’iq of the Akhbari doctrine, and occasionally there were bitter disputes. In the end, Wahid Bihbihani defeated the author of the Hada’iqand it is said that the outstanding pupils of Aqa Wahid, such as Kashif al­Ghita’, Bahr al­`Ulum and the Sayyid Mahdi Shahrastani29, had first of all been pupils of the author of theHada’iq and had afterwards left him and joined the lessons of Wahid Bihbihani.

Of course, the author of the ”Hada’iq” was a moderate Akhbari; he claimed that his doctrine was identical with that of Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi 30, half way between Akhbari and Usuli. Moreover, he was a pious and God-fearing man of faith, and although Wahid Bihbihani fought against him vociferously and forbade congregational prayers behind him, he, quite the contrary, said that congregational prayers behind Aqa Wahid were valid. It is said that at the time of his death he left in his will that Wahid Bihbihani should recite his funerary prayer.

The struggle of the Shaykh al­Ansari was such that he managed to build a solid foundation for the science of usul al­fiqh; and it is said that he maintained that if Amin al­Astarabadi had been alive he would have accepted his usul.

Naturally, the Akhbari school was defeated as a result of this opposition, and now it has no following except here and there. However, not all the ideas of Akhbarism, which penetrated people’s minds so quickly and securely after the appearance of Mulla Amin, and which held sway for more or less two hundred years, have disappeared. Even now we see many who do not recognize the permissibility of an exegesis of the Qur’an unless a hadith is quoted. The inflexibility of Akhbarism still reigns in many of the matters of akhlaq (ethics) and in social problems, even in some parts of fiqh. But now is not the time for me to expand on this.

One thing which is a cause of the popularity of the Akhbari way of thinking is their self-righteousness, which is pleasing to ordinary people, because their ideas are formulated in such a way that they seem to be claiming: “we are not saying anything we have invented ourselves, we are people of obedience and submission; we say nothing except what the Imam al­-Baqir (or the Imam al­Sadiq, etc.) said; we do not speak ourselves, we only say what the ma`sumin said.”

In the chapter on ihtiyat and bara’a (precaution and exemption from obligation) in his Fara’ id al­Usul the Shaykh al­Ansari quotes from Ni`mat Allah al­Jaza’iri31, who maintained the doctrine of the Akhbaris:

Can any rational person conceive the possibility that on the day of Resurrection they will bring forth one of the slaves of Allah (i.e., the Akhbaris) and ask him how he acted, and that when he says that he acted according to what the ma`sumin ordered and that everywhere there was no word from the ma`sumin he desisted as a precaution, they will take such a person to Hell, while they will lead a thoughtless person who was inattentive to the words of the ma`sumin (i.e., an Usuli who follows the doctrine of ijtihad), who rejects every hadith on the slightest pretext, to heaven? It is not possible!

The answer which the mujtahids give is that this kind of obedience and submission is not submission to the words of the ma`sumin, but submission to ignorance. If it is really certain that the ma`sumin said something, then we must submit; but these people wanted to submit ignorantly to everything they heard.

I will give as an example something which I have recently come across, so that the difference between the rigid Akhbari way of thinking and the ijtihadi way of thinking can be seen.

A sample of the two ways of thinking

It has been commanded in many hadiths that the end of the turban should always hang down and pass round the neck, not only at the time of prayer, but at all times. One of these hadiths is as follows:

The difference between a Muslim and an unbeliever is the passing of the end of the turban round his neck (al­talahhi).

A number of Akhbaris have seized upon this hadith and those like it, and said that the end of the turban must always hang down. But Mulla Muhsin Fayd32, although he did not think very highly of ijtihad, did in fact act in accordance withijtihad in his chapter on apparel and adornment (al­ziy wa l­tajammul) in his Kitab al­Wafi’: and say that in former times the unbelievers had a slogan to the effect that the end of the turban should be tucked in on top, and they called this actiqti`at.

If someone did this, it implied that he was one of them, and this hadith ordered that this slogan should be challenged and not followed. However this slogan has for a long time ceased to be current, and thus the subject of the hadith is no longer a matter of concern; on the contrary, since everyone tucks the end of his turban in on top, it is forbidden for someone to drape it round his neck, for it would be dressing in a way which drew attention to oneself, and this is unlawful.

Here the ossified doctrine of Akhbarism ruled that the text of the hadith ordered that the end of the turban must hang down, and it is an interference with it for us to add our words to it and give our own opinion and practice ijtihad. But the thinking of ijtihad is that we have two commands: one is the command to keep clear of the slogan of the unbelievers, which is the spirit of the subject of this hadith; and the other is the command to avoid ostentatious dress.

In the days when this slogan had currency, and Muslims were trying to avoid appearing to comply with it, it became an obligation on everybody to keep the ends of their turbans hanging down; but now that this state of affairs no longer pertains and the slogan has fallen into oblivion, and now that ordinarily no ­one lets the end of his turban hang down, if someone were to do this, it would be an instance of ostentatious clothing, and this is illicit. This is just one example which I wanted to give you: there are many like it.

It is narrated from Wahid Bihbihani that he said:

Once, the new moon of Shawwal [the month following Ramadan] had been established because it had been sighted by many people (tawatur). So many people came and said that they had seen the new moon that certainty had been obtained in the matter for me33, so I gave the order that that day was the `Id al­Fitr [the feast marking the end of Ramadan].

One of the Akhbaris protested to me that I had not seen it myself, and that it had not been witnessed by people who had been proven to be `adil [to always act in accordance with the shari`a], and that I should therefore not have given the ruling. I said that it was mutawatir, and that this was a source of certainty for me. He then asked me in what hadith it had been narrated that tawatur was a valid proof leading to certainty.

It is also well known that some of the Akhbaris gave the command that the testimony of belief should always be written on the shroud of the corpse in this way:

Isma`il yashhadu an la ilaha illa llah (Isma`il testifies that there is no God but Allah).

Now the reason [they say] that the testimony is to be written in the name of Isma`il is that it is narrated in a hadith that the Imam al­Sadiq wrote in this way on the shroud of his son Isma`il. The Akhbaris had never stopped to think that it was written thus on his shroud because his name was Isma`il; and that now, for example, that Hasan has died, they should say: “We should write his own name on the shroud, not that of Isma`il.” Instead they argued: “This would be ijtihad,resorting to one’s own opinion and relying on `aql. We are the people of obedience and submission to the words of the Imams al­Baqir and al­Sadiq, and we, for our part, will not interfere.”

The kind of taqlid that is forbidden by the shari`a

Let us now turn to taqlid. It is [as was said before] of two kinds: licit and illicit [in terms of the shari`a]. There is a kind of taqlid which is the blind following of one’s surroundings and of habit, which is, of course, forbidden, and it is this which is condemned in the Qur’an when those who say:

Behold, we found our forefathers agreed on what to believe – and verily, it is but in their footsteps that we follow. (42:23)

are condemned. We have said that taqlid is of two kinds: licit and illicit. What we meant by illicit taqlid is not confined solely to the kind of taqlid which is the blind imitation of one’s surroundings, of habit, of one’s parents or ancestors, but we wanted also to say that taqlid between those who do not have [the necessary] knowledge (al-jahil) and those who do (al­`alim), the consultation of the faqih by the ordinary person, is of two kinds: licit and illicit.

We occasionally hear these days from some people who are looking for a marja` al­taqlid, that they are looking to find someone to whom they can give unqualified allegiance. We want to say that the taqlid which Islam has commanded is not “unqualified allegiance”; it is the opening, and keeping open, of one’s eyes, of awareness. If taqlid takes on an aspect of devotion, thousands of evil affects will come about.

Now there is a well-known and detailed hadith on this subject which I shall quote for you:

Whichever of the fuqaha can protect his self 34, who can preserve his religion, who fights his desires and is obedient to the commands of his Master, should be followed by the people in taqlid.

This is one of the textual proofs for taqlid and ijtihad. The Shaykh al­Ansari said about this hadith that the signs of truth are evident in it.

It is an appendage to the following verse from the Qur’an:

And there are among them unlettered people who have no real knowledge of the divine Book, only wishful beliefs, and they depend on nothing but conjecture.(2:78)

This verse comes in condemnation of the ignorant and illiterate Jews who followed, and practiced taqlid of, their religious scholars and leaders, and it comes after some verses which mention the unattractive behavior of the Jewish religious scholars. It points out that a group of them were such ignorant and illiterate people that they knew nothing of the divine Book except a string of imaginary beliefs [about it] and such things as they wished to believe, and that they had gone after surmise and illusion.

The hadith of the sixth Imam concerning the kind of taqlid which is illicit

The following hadith is connected to the previous verse. Someone said to the Imam al­Sadiq that the ordinary, illiterate Jews had no other alternative but to take in everything they heard from their religious scholars and to follow them. If there is any blame, it should be directed towards the Jewish scholars themselves. Why should the Qur’an censure helpless ordinary people who knew nothing and were only following their scholars? What difference is there between the common Jew and the common Muslim? If taqlid by ordinary people and their following of the learned is forbidden, we Muslims, who follow our scholars, this person reasoned, must also be the objects of reprehension and censure. If the former should not have accepted what their scholars said, then the latter should not accept what their scholars say.

The Imam said:

In one respect there is a difference between the ordinary Jew and the Jewish scholars, and the ordinary Muslim and the Muslim scholars, and in another respect there is a similarity. In so far as there is a similarity, God has commanded the ordinary Muslim also not to practice that kind of taqlid of scholars, but in so far as there is a difference, He has not.

The person who had asked the Imam then said: O son of the Messenger of Allah, please explain what you mean.

Then Imam said:

The ordinary Jews could see from their scholars and the way that they behaved that they were quite clearly lying: they did not refrain from accepting bribes; they changed the laws and the rulings of the courts in exchange for favors. They knew that they displayed partiality to certain individuals. They indulged their personal likes and dislikes; they would give one man’s right to someone else. .. On account of natural, common sense, which God has created in everyone, we all know that we must not accept the speech of people who behave in such a way as this; we must not accept the word of God and the prophets from the tongues of such people as this.

What the Imam meant here was that no ­one can say that the ordinary Jewish people did not know that they should not act in accordance with what had been said by those of their scholars who acted contrary to the divine commands of their religion. This is not something that someone might not know. Knowledge of this kind is put by God into every person’s nature, and everyone’s reason acknowledges it. In the terminology of logic, it is a ‘inborn’ proposition; its proof is contained within itself. According to the dictate of every intellect, one must not pay any attention to the utterance of someone whose philosophy of life is purity and the rejection of the human passions but who pursues what his desires tell him to. Then the Imam continued:

It is the same thing for our people: they too, if they understand or see with their own eyes that there is behavior contrary to the shari`a on the part of their scholars, strong prejudices, a scramble after the ephemera of this world, preference for their own supporters however irreligious they may be, and judgment against their opponents even when they deserve verdicts in their favor, if they perceive such behavior among them and then follow them, they are just the same as the Jewish people and should be reprimanded and censured.

So it is clear that unquestioning allegiance and shutting one’s eyes to the truth is not the kind of taqlid which is encouraged or permitted by the shari`a. Licit taqlid means having one’s eyes open and being observant and alert; otherwise it is accepting responsibility for, and being an accomplice to, an illicit act.

Regarding the popular belief that the `ulama cannot be tainted by immorality

Some people imagine that the effect of sin on individuals is not of only one kind: that sin has an effect on ordinary people which annuls their piety and right behavior, but that it has no effect on the `ulama’ who have some kind of immunity. It is like the difference between a little water and a lot which, if it is more than one kurr 35, cannot be tainted by any unclean thing. Now, in fact, Islam does not consider anyone to be untenantable, not even the Prophet. For why then should God have said:

O Prophet] say: ‘I also, if I commit a sin, fear punishment on the Great Day.’?

Why should He have said:

If any kind of attributing godhood to other than Allah (shirk) enters your actions, your work will be spoilt?

All this is to show that there is no kind of partiality or discrimination, there is no immunity from sin for anyone.

The story of Moses and God’s righteous servants, which is in the Qur’an, is a wonderful story. One moral which can be drawn from it is that the follower should surrender to the one he is following up to the point where basic principles and the law are not contravened. If it is seen that the leader does something against these principles, one must not remain silent. It is true that the fact that in the story the things which the servant of God does are not, in his view, against these basic principles, since he sees a wider horizon and can see into the heart of the matter; they were, rather, his very duty and responsibility.

But the question here is why Moses was not patient, and why he gave vent to his criticisms, despite the fact that he had promised [the servant of God] and himself that he would not make any objection? Why, then, did he protest and criticize? The defect in Moses’ actions was not his protesting and criticizing, but the fact that he was not aware of the un-divulged aspect of the matter, the inward and secret side of the events.

Of course, if he had been aware of the hidden reasons for what happened, he would not have objected, and he would have wanted to discover the secret of the affair; but as long as his actions were, from his own point of view, against basic principles and the divine Law, his faith would not allow him to remain silent.

There are those who have said that if the actions of that servant of God were to be repeated on the Day of the Resurrection, Moses would still object to them and criticize them, unless, by that time, he were to become aware of the hidden reasons behind them. Moses said to the servant of God:

“Shall I follow you so that you may teach me, of what you have been taught, right judgement.”

“Assuredly you will not be able to bear with me patiently.”

Then he explained the reason very clearly:

“And how should you bear patiently what you have never encompassed in your knowledge?”

Moses said:

“Yet you will find me, if Allah will, patient, and I shall not rebel against you in anything.”

Moses did not say that he would be patient whether he discovered the secret of the matter or not. He merely said that he hoped he would have that patience. Of course, this patience did exist within Moses as long as he understood the reason for things.

Then the servant of God wanted to have something more definite from him; that, even if he did not discover the reason for what had happened, he would remain silent and not protest until the time came for him to explain.

“Then, if you follow me, do not question me on anything until I myself introduce the mention of it to you.” (117:66­70)

Here, the verse does not say if Moses accepted; it only says that after this they both set out together and continued till the end of the story which we all know.

At any rate, I wanted to show that the ignorant person’s taqlid of the learned should not be blind allegiance. The unlawful kind of taqlid between one who is ignorant and one who has knowledge is that kind in which unquestioning obedience exists, which takes some such form as: “an ignorant person cannot quarrel with a learned person; we don’t understand, perhaps the duties imposed by the shari`a necessitate its being like this.”

I have mentioned this story as evidence and corroboration for what was in the hadith of the Imam al­Sadiq. 36

Taqlid permitted by the shari`a

After what I have narrated concerning the kind of taqlid forbidden by the shari`a, the Imam went on to explain the kind of taqlid permitted by the shari`a the kind which is to be praised, in these words:

Whichever of the fuqaha’ can protect his self, who can preserve his religion, who fights his desires and is obedient to the commands of his Master, then he should be followed by the people in taqlid.

Of course, it is clear that the struggle of a spiritual `alim with his weaker desires is very different from the struggle of an ordinary person, because the desires of each individual are associated with specific activities. The desires of a youth are one thing, the desires of an old man another; everyone, in whatever position, degree, stage or age he may be, has a particular kind of desire. The standard for subservience to inferior desires for a spiritual `alim is not what we see: for example, whether he drinks alcohol or not, whether he has stopped praying and fasting or not, whether he gambles or not.37

The standard for the subservience to inferior desires for such a person is whether he desires position, to have his hand kissed, to become famous and popular and have people walk behind him, to use the wealth of the Muslims to lord over others, to allow his friends and relatives, especially his sons, to benefit from the wealth of the Muslims. Then the Imam said:

Only some of the Shi`i fuqaha have these great qualities and traits of character, not all of them.

This hadith, on account of its final phrases, is one of the pieces of evidence in the question of ijtihad and taqlid.

So it is clear that both ijtihad and taqlid can be divided into two kinds: that which is permitted by the shari`a and that which is not.

Why is taqlid of a dead person not permitted

We have a principle in fiqh, which is one of the indisputable points of our fiqh,that taqlid of a dead person in the first instance is not permitted. If taqlid of a dead person is permitted, it is only when taqlid is carried on from someone who was followed [by the same person] while he was alive and is now dead.38 Moreover, the carrying on of the taqlid of a dead person must also be with the permission of a living mujtahid. I am not concerned here with the reasons in fiqh for this principle, so I will only say that it is a very basic idea, but only on the condition that the aim of the principle is clearly understood.

The first purpose of this principle is that it should be a means for the survival of the traditional centers of learning of the Islamic sciences, so that there should be continuity, and that the Islamic sciences should be preserved – not only preserved, but that they should advance day by day and be perfected, and that those matters which had not previously been solved should be solved.

It is not the case that all our problems have been solved in the past by our`ulama’, and that now we have no more problems and no more work. We have thousands of riddles and difficulties in kalam (theology), Qur’anic exegesis, fiqh and the other Islamic sciences, many of which have been solved by the great`ulama’ of the past, but many of which remain, and it is the duty of those who follow on to solve them and to gradually write better and more complete texts in each subject, to continue each subject and develop it, just as in the past, too, exegesis, theology and law were gradually developed. The caravan must not be brought to a halt in mid ­journey. So people’s taqlid of living mujtahids, and their heeding them, is a means to the continuance and development of the Islamic sciences.

Another reason is that every day Muslims are faced with new problems in their lives, and they do not know what their duty is in these matters. It is necessary to have living fuqaha’, aware of the contemporary situation, to respond to this great need. It is narrated in one hadith concerning ijtihad and taqlid:

As for al­hawadith al­waqi`a, refer concerning them to the narrators of our hadith.

These hawadith al­waqi`a are exactly these new problems which arise as time passes. Study and research into the books of fiqh from different epochs and centuries shows that gradually, according to the needs of the people, new problems arise in fiqh, and that the fuqaha’ set out to answer them. It is for this reason that the dimensions of fiqh have increased.

If a researcher were to make a tally, he could discover, for example, in what century, in what place and for what reason, such ­and ­such a problem arose in fiqh. If it were not necessary for a living mujtahid to give answers to these problems, what difference would there be between taqlid of a living person and taqlid of a dead person? It would be better to follow in taqlid some of the dead mujtahids like the Shaykh al­Ansari, who, on the admission of the now ­living mujtahids themselves, was the most knowledgeable and learned.

Basically, the ‘secret’ of ijtihad lies in applying general principles to new problems and changed circumstances. The real mujtahid is one who has mastered this ‘secret’, who has observed how things change, and subsequently how the rulings on them have changed. For there is no skill in only thinking about things which are in the past and have already been thought about; or, at the most, changing an `ala l­aqwa into an `ala l­ahwat.39, or vice versa; there is no need to make a song and dance about any of this.

Of course, ijtihad has many preconditions and prerequisites; a mujtahid must have acquired the various [preliminary] sciences. It is necessary that he should have applied himself to the study of Arabic language and literature, to logic, to the study of usul (jurisprudence), even to the history of Islam and the fiqh of the other sects, so that he might become a true and thorough faqih.

No one can ordinarily lay claim to ijtihad just by reading a few books on Arabic grammar, or rhetoric and logic, then three or four of the set books for the intermediate stage, such as the Fara’idthe Makasib or the Kifaya40and then spending a few hours in the dars­i kharij.41 He does not then become qualified to sit with the Wasa’il and Jawahir42, in front of him and issue legal opinions.

He must be completely knowledgeable in exegesis and hadith, that is to say in the several thousands of hadith which appeared in the two and a half centuries from the time of the Prophet to the time of the Imam al­Hasan al­`Askari, and of the circumstances in which they appeared; he must also know Islamic history and the fiqh of other Islamic sects, and the narrators of traditions and their biographies and reliability.

Ayatullah Burujirdi was a true faqih. It is not my habit to mention people by name, and while he was alive I never mentioned him in my lectures. But now that he has died and there can be no ulterior motive, I can say that this man was truly a distinguished and outstanding faqih. He was conversant with, and proficient in, all these sciences, in exegesis, hadith, knowledge of the narrators of hadith, in the sciences of the evaluation of hadith (`ilm al-daraya), and in the fiqh of the other sects of Islam.

How the faqih’s outlook on the world affects the legal opinions he issues

The work of a faqih and mujtahid is the deduction and derivation of the precepts [of the shari`a]but his knowledge and understanding of all things, in other words, his world­view, has a great influence on the decisions he makes. The faqih must have all the information on matters upon which he is going to issue a fatwa. If we imagine a faqih who is always sitting in the corner of his house or his madrasa, and compare him with a faqih who is conversant with the currents of life, both of them refer back to the valid proofs of the shari`a, but each one of them will derive his legal rulings in a particular way, using a particular method.

Let me give an example. Suppose that someone who grew up in Tehran, or in a big town like Tehran, where running water is in plentiful supply and there are reservoirs and tanks and gutters, becomes a faqih and wishes to issue a fatwa concerning the precepts about what is pure and what is impure.

When he refers to the hadiths on purity and impurity, such a person will, owing to his own previous experience, make a deduction in a way which will be extremely circumspect and will necessitate the avoidance of many things. But the same person, once he has been to the House of God [the Ka`aba] and seen the conditions of purity and impurity and the lack of water in that place, will find himself changing his outlook regarding the subject of purity and impurity. After such a journey, if he consults the hadiths on this matter, he will see them in a different light.

If someone compares the fatwas of the fuqaha’ with each other, and then pays attention to the individual circumstances and each of these scholars’ ways of thinking about living problems, he will see how the mental environment of a faqih and the information he has concerning the outside world influence his legal rulings in such a way that the legal rulings of an Arab faqih have an Arabic flavor, those of an Iranian have an Iranian flavor, and those of a country­ dweller have a rustic flavor as opposed to the urban feel of those of a city ­dweller.

This religion is the final religion; it is not exclusive to a particular time or place; it is relevant to all times and places. It is a religion which came to establish order and progress in the life of man, so how could a faqih who is uninformed of the natural arrangement and movement of things and who does not believe in a progression towards perfection in life, deduce the high and truly progressive laws of this upright (hanif) religion in a way which is in perfect accordance with the truth? For this religion came to give order to this natural arrangement, movement and development, and it guarantees its guidance.

The understanding of necessities

At the present time, we have some cases in our fiqh where our fuqaha’ have given a definite ruling on the requirement of something only because they have seen the necessity and importance of the matter. In other words, since there is no transmitted evidence from the verses of the Qur’an or from hadith which is explicit and sufficient, and since there is also no valid consensus in the matter, they have used the fourth basic principle of derivation, i.e., the principle of independent reasoning (`aql).

In this kind of instance, the fuqaha’ become certain that the command of God in such and ­such a case is such ­and ­such, because of the importance of the matter and their knowledge of the spirit of Islam which leaves no important matter in abeyance. For example, in the case of the legal ruling given by the fuqaha’ concerning the guardianship (wilaya) of the ruler and the subsidiary problems connected with it, if the importance of this matter had not been realized, no legal rulings would have been issued.

The fuqaha’ have only issued them to the extent which they understand to be necessary. Other instances similar to this can be found where the reason that a legal ruling has not been given is the fact that the importance and necessity of the matter has not been fully realized.

An important recommendation

Here I have a recommendation which could be most useful for the advancement and development of our fiqh. It was previously put forward by the late Shaykh `Abd al-­Karim al-­Yazdi 43, and I am here only reiterating his proposal.

He asked what it was that required people to follow only one person in taqlid in all matters. Would it not be better if specialized divisions were established in fiqh? That is to say, there would be groups who, after having completed the general study of fiqh and become experts in it, would specialize in one particular section, and then people would follow them in that particular section.

For example, some would take as their specialization `ibadat (the rites of Islam), and others mu`amilat (transactions), some siyasat (politics), and other ahkam(criminal law); this is exactly what has been done in medicine where specialized branches have been created, and doctors divided into groups for each specialty, some being heart specialists, some eye specialists, some ear, nose and throat specialists, and others specialists in other branches. If this were done, each person could study his own branch more thoroughly. I believe that there is a discussion of this matter in the book al­Kalam Yajurru l­Kalam by the Sayyid Ahmad al-Zanjani.44

This recommendation is a very good one, and I will add only that the need to divide fiqh up and to create specialized branches arose a hundred years ago, and in present circumstances the fuqaha of today will impede the forward development of fiqh and stunt its growth unless they heed this recommendation.

The division of the sciences into specialised branches

The division of the sciences is the result of their development, but also its cause. For a science gradually progresses until it reaches the point where it is no longer possible for a single person to investigate all the problems it raises. It must then necessarily be divided up into branches of specialization. Thus the division of a science and the creation of branches within it is the result and the effect of the development of that science, while, at the same time, more progress is made when these branches are created, and thought can be concentrated on the special problems in each branch.

In all the world’s sciences – medicine, mathematics, law, literature and philosophy – branches of specialization have been created, and for that very reason progress has been accelerated in each of these branches.

The progress made in fiqh during the last thousand years

There was a time when fiqh was a very limited science. When we refer back to the texts before the time of the Shaykh al­ Tusi, we see how restricted it was. By writing his al ­Mabsutal­ Tusi took fiqh into new realms and enlarged its scope, and in the course of time, as a result of the efforts of the `ulama’ and fuqaha, and because of the creation of new problems and the initiation of new investigations to answer them, fiqh progressed even further, to the point where, about a hundred years ago, when the author of the Jawahir wrote his complete compendium of fiqh, he was only just able to finish it.

It is said that he started his task when he was about twenty years old, and that, thanks to his extraordinary genius, continual work and a long life, he was able to write the last pages right at the very end of his life. The Jawahir was printed in six very bulky [lithographed] volumes, while the whole of al­-Tusi’s “al­Mabsut,which was in his time the example of a comprehensive work on fiqh, is probably less than half of one of these six volumes.

After the author of the Jawahir died, the foundations of a new fiqh were laid by the Shaykh Murtadha al­-Ansari, and the epitome of this new fiqh was that great man’s al ­Makasib and al­Tahara.45 Since his time, no ­one could even conceive of teaching a complete cycle of fiqh with such thorough explanation and research.

At the present time, after this advance in the development of our fiqh, which occurred in the same way as similar advances in other sciences all over the world, and which has been the result of the efforts of the `ulama’ and fuqaha’ of the past, the scholars of today will find themselves faced with the choice of either curbing any further progress in fiqh or putting this sensible and progressive recommendation into practice and creating branches of specialization, as a result of which people will come to discriminate in their taqlid, in the same way as they discriminate in referring to a doctor.

A council of fuqaha’

There is another recommendation which I wish to make, and the more fully I explain what I have in mind the better it will be. At the present time, when branches of specialization exist in every science, resulting in breathtaking advances in these sciences, there is another practice which, in its turn, has acted as a contributing factor, and this is practical and theoretical cooperation between first rank scientists and specialists in all the branches of science.

Now, solitary theorizing or experiment no longer has any value, nothing is to be achieved from going one’s own way. In every branch, scholars and scientists are constantly engaged in exchanging ideas; they put the results of their thinking at the disposal of other specialists, and the scientists of one continent cooperate with those of another.

The result of this theoretical and experimental cooperation between first rank scientists is that if a useful and valid theory is put forward, it can be published and establish itself more quickly, whereas, if a theory is weak, its failing can be discovered and it can be eliminated sooner, so that in the future the pupils of the authorities who developed these theories will be saved from these errors.

Unfortunately, we still have not created any division of labor or specialization among ourselves, no practical or theoretical cooperation, and it is clear that as long as this is delayed, progress and the solution of difficulties cannot be achieved. There is no need for a proof of the need for scientific cooperation and the exchange of ideas since it is so self­ evident, but so that it may not be doubted, I shall show, by quotations from the Qur’an and Nahj al­Balagha that this recommendation, this progressive order, is to be found within Islam itself.

In the Qur’an, in the sura called al ­Shura (Council), it is said:

“And those who answer their Lord, and perform the prayer, their affair being counsel between them, and expend of that We have provided them with.” (42:38)

This verse describes the true believers and followers of Islam in this way: they reply to the call of God, they establish prayer, they do their work in consultation with each other, and they dispose of that which God has bestowed on them. So, in the view of Islam, consultation and the exchange of ideas is one of the basic principles of life for people of faith, the true followers of Islam.

In Nahj al ­Balaqha it is said:

Know that a group of the slaves of Allah with whom knowledge of Allah was entrusted keep His secret; they cause His springs to flow (i.e., they open the springs of knowledge for the people), they have friendly relations with one another and feelings of affection, they meet each other with warmth and cheerfulness and love, they quench each other’s thirst from the cup of their acquired knowledge, and they emerge with their thirsts quenched.

If scientific consultation were to come into existence in the science of fiqh, and the principle of the exchange of ideas were to be thoroughly practiced, many of the differences between legal opinions would be resolved, quite apart from the advances that would be made in the science as such. There is no alternative: if we maintain that our fiqh is also one of the world’s genuine sciences, we must make use of the methods used in the other sciences. If we do not, the result will be that it will no longer be considered a science.

I have other useful and urgent recommendations, but my time is running out and I cannot mention them now, for it would take almost another three quarters of an hour, and I know that some people have a long way to go to reach their homes.

The verse of the Qur’an which I quoted at the beginning was:

“It is not for the believers to go forth all together; but why should not a party of every section of them go forth, to become learned (yatafaqqahu) in the religion, and to warn their people when they return to them, that they may beware.” (9:122)

This verse explicitly instructs that a group of the Muslims should study (tafaqquh)their religion and let others benefit from what they have studied. Tafaqquh is from the root f­q­h. The meaning of fiqh is not mere understanding: rather, it is deep understanding of, and perfect insight into, the truth of something. In hisMufradatRaghib 46, says:

Fiqh is the reaching for hidden knowledge by means of manifest knowledge.

Taffaquh is defined as:

Going after something and becoming expert in it.

The above verse is addressed to Muslims whose understanding of Islam is not superficial, telling them to think deeply and discover the meaning and the spirit of the rules of Islam. This verse is the evidence for ijtihad and the study of fiqh, and it is also the evidence for our recommendations. Just as this verse lays the foundation for ijtihad and tafaqquh in Islam, so also it advocates that these two things should be more widely practiced. More attention should be paid to what is required, the `ulama’ should start to sit in fiqh counsels, the individualistic approach should be discouraged, and branches of specialization should be created, so that our fiqh may continue on its path of perfection.

  • 1.Tehran, 1962.
  • 2.Lambton, A.K.S., ‘A reconsideration of the position of the marja` taqlid and the religious institution., Studia Islamica, XX (1964), 115­135. (See also, al­Serat, Vol Vll, No. 1 (1981), p. 12­27)
  • 3.For further information on these two persons, refer to the section by Yann Richard on ‘Contemporary Shi`i Thought’ in: Keddie, N.R., Roots of Revolution: an Interpretative History of Modern Iran, New Haven, 1981.
  • 4.See the author’s introduction to the new edition of: Mutahhari, M., “llal­Girayish bi Maddigari’ Qum, 1980, pp. 8­9.
  • 5.The collection of orations, homilies and letters of the first Shi`i Imam, `Ali b. Abi Talib, compiled by the Sharif al­-Radi (d. 406/1015).
  • 6.For these and many other details of Mutahhari’s life and times, reference should be made to the article ‘Sayri dar zindigi­yi `ilmi va inqilabi­yi ustad shahid Murtadha Mutahhari’, in: `Abd al-­Karim Surush (ed.), Yadnama­yi Ustad Shahid Murtadha Mutahhari, Tehran, 1981, pp. 319­380
  • 7.It was reopened after the revolution.
  • 8.For a complete list of his published and unpublished works, refer to: `Abd al­-Karim Surush, op. cit., 436­556.
  • 9.The translation of Qur’anic verses and hadiths has been made in accordance with the author’s own Persian translation except where this is more an interpretation than a translation, in which case a more literal English translation is given
  • 10.This address was given on 1 Urdibihisht 1340 Sh. (21 April 1961), three weeks after the death of Ayatullah Burujirdi
  • 11.(Cairo, 1940) The main work in jurisprudence by Abu `Abdillah Muhammad b. Idris al-Shafi`i (150/767 ­ 204/820), the founder of the Shafi`iya legal school. He laid the foundations for the systematic treatment of qiyas
  • 12.The Sayyid `Abd al­Husayn al­Musawi Sharaf al­Din (1290/1873­4­ 1377/1957­8), born in Kazimayn, educated in Najaf, but subsequently resident mostly in the Lebanon. He is popularly famous for his ”al­Muraja`at” (Sayda, 1355/1936­7; frequently reprinted), which contains his detailed correspondence with the Egyptian scholar Salim al­Bishri in defense of Shi`ism. His “Al­Nass was l­Ijtihad” was published in Najaf in 1375/1955­6, and has also been reprinted several times. He is also the author of “Abu Hurayra” (Sayda, n.d.), a book about the controversial narrator of hadith.
  • 13.“Al­Kafi fi `Ilm al­-Din”, (ed `A. A. Ghaffari, 8 vols., Tehran, 1377­9) the first and largest of the Shi`i collections of hadith, compiled by Muhammad b. Ya`qub b. Ishaq al­Razi al-Kulayni (d. 328/939). It contains over 16,000 traditions from the Prophet and the Imams covering all aspects of the usul (the ‘roots’, mainly theological) and the furu` (the ‘branches’, mainly preceptual) of the religion.
  • 14.The khabar al­wahid is that kind of tradition which has not reached the status of tawatur, i.e., has not been narrated by so many traditionalists that there is no doubt about its validity. Under certain conditions, such traditions are admissible as proof (hujja) in the derivation of precepts.
  • 15.Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. al-­Hasan b. `Ali al-­Tusi (385/995 ­ 460/1067), the Shaykh al­-Ta’ifa (the Chief [scholar] of the [Shi`a] Sect), author of ”`Uddat al­-Usul” (Tehran, 1314).
  • 16.Jamal al­Din Abu `Amr `Uthman b. `Umar b. Abi Bakr b. Yusuf, Ibn al­Hajib (570/1174 ­646/1249), the Maliki legist, author of “Muntaha al­Su’al wa l­Amal fi `ilmay al­Usul wa l­Jada”’ which he condensed into his “Mukhtasar al­Usul”. Besides al­Iji’s commentary on this abridgement, there is also one by the `Allama al­Hilli (see below, note 19), called “Ghayat al­Usul” which he wrote to refute al­Iji’s (see: ”al­Dhari`a”, XIV, p.56).
  • 17.Abu Hamid Muhammad al­-Tusi al­-Ghazali (450/1058 ­ 505/1 111), who followed the Shafi`i madhhab. The full title of his work on jurisprudence is “al­Mustasfa min `ilm al­Usul” (2 vols, Cairo, 1356)
  • 18.The main substantial difference between Shi`i and Sunni ijma` is that the former must contain the opinion of the Imam in the consensus. The discussion of how this can be achieved during the Imam’s occultation forms one of the important parts of the science of usul.
  • 19.Jamal al-­Din Abu Mansur, Hasan b. Yusuf b. `Ali b. Mutahhar, the `Allama al­Hilli (648/1250 ­ 726/1325), the famous legist, philosopher and mutakallim, author of “Tahdhib Tariq al­ Wusul ila `ilm al­Usul” (Tehran, 1308).
  • 20.Abu Ja`far, Muhammad b. `Ali b. al­Husayn b. Babawayh al­Qummi (d. 381/991).
  • 21.These are: “al­Kafi” (see note 13); “Man la Yahdurahu l­Faqih “ (ed. H. M. Khirsan, 4 volumes, Najaf, 1957, by 1958­62), also by al­Tusi
  • 22.The fourteen “impeccables”: i.e., the Prophet, his daughter Fatimat al-­Zahra, and the twelve Imams.
  • 23.After the student of fiqh has mastered the necessary sciences, he may, if his teacher considers him to be capable of deriving his own legal opinions, receive a certificate authorizing him to do so; but he still cannot be followed by others in taqlid. For this to happen, he must rise to the final degree and become a marja` al­taqlid, where other qualities besides just his scholarship, e.g., his piety and conformity to the shari`a, cause him to be respected above other mujtahids, and thus to become a source of certainty to his muqallids that in following him they will not deviate from the shari`a.
  • 24.This is a question of certainty (qat`, yaqin): the evidence for the existence of a precept must be such as to leave no room for any kind of doubt in the mind of the person who models his behaviour according to it; in the case of proofs concerning sensory evidence, the very data themselves are only probablistic, so no proof employing them can arrive at demonstrable certainty. Therefore, in such a proof, other probabalistic elements such as `aql are admissible, but these cannot be used to derive the precepts of the shari`a.
  • 25.Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad al­-Bihbihani (1116­8/1704­7 ­ 1208/1793­4).
  • 26.The Shaykh Murtadha b. Muhammad Amin b. Shams al­Din b. Ahmad b. Nur al­Din b. Muhammad Sadiq al­Shushtari al­Dizfuli al­Ansari (1214/1799 ­ 1281/1864), whose “Rasa’il”, on usul al­fiqh were published as “Fara’id al­Usul”(Tehran, 1296). His works in usul and fiqh now form the backbone of the present­day teaching of these subjects
  • 27.One of the `atabat, the Shi`i sacred towns in Iraq, the site of the battle where the third Imam, al­Husayn, and his followers were massacred on 10 Muharram 61/680. It is about 95 kms. S.S.W. of Baghdad
  • 28.The Shaykh Yusuf b. Ahmad al­Bahrani (d. 1186/1772), author of ”al­Hada`iq al­Nadira Ahkam al­`Itra al­Tahira” (ed. M.T. al­Irwani, 20 vols., Najaf, 1377­ ).
  • 29.a) Ja`far b. Khidr b. Yahya al­Najafi (1164/751 ­ 1227/1812), known as “Kashif al­Ghita `an Mubhamat al­Shari`a al­Gharra” (Tehran, 1271). b) The Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi b. Murtadha b. Muhammad b. ` Abd al­Karim al­Hasani al­Husayni (1154­5/1741­2 ­ 1212/1797), known as the Sayyid Bahr al­`Ulum. c) The Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi al­Shahrastani al­Ha’iri b. Abi’l­Qasim al­Musawi (d. 1216/1801).
  • 30.Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad Taqi b. Maqsud `Ali al­Majlisi al­Isfahani (1037/1627 ­ 1111/1700), compiler of the encyclopaedic collection of Shi`i hadith, “Bihar al­A nwar” (110 vols, Tehran, 1376­ [vol. VIII, Tehran, 1304])
  • 31.The Sayyid Ni`mat Allah b. `Abdillah b. Muhammad al­Musawi al­Jaza’iri (d. 1112/1700), a pupil of the `Allama al­Majlisi (see previous note).
  • 32.Muhammad b. Murtadha b. Mahmud Muhsin al­Kashani (d. 1091/1680).
  • 33.It is to be understood that tawatur is a proof of certainty according to the science of usul al-fiqh, and that it has been so established independently of textual proofs. This rational view was challenged by the Akhbaris precisely because of the lack of textual backing.
  • 34.Protecting the nafs, the soul, the greater, moral jihad, as opposed to the lesser jihad of protecting Islam against the external enemy.
  • 35.One kurr of water is approximately 377 litres. In religious law if an amount less than this comes into contact with a religiously impure thing, the water too becomes impure, whereas above this amount the purity is not endangered.
  • 36.`Abd Salih, the “Righteous Servant”. For this story see the sura of “al­Kahf’, 60 ­ 82.
  • 37.Since he obviously refrains from such activities.
  • 38.According to a commonly accepted ruling, this applies only to those matters which the muqallid formerly performed according to the fatawa of the subsequently deceased marja` al-taqlid. If any new matter arises for him, he must follow the fatwa of a living, `adil mujtahid
  • 39.Two principles (usul `amalia) for the preponderance of one opinion over another in fiqh. If one opinion is chosen over another `ala l­aqwa, it is chosen because the proof for it is thought to be stronger; if it chosen `ala l­ahwat, it is because of the principle of precaution (ihtiyat) which requires that what is least likely to be at variance with the shari`a should be adopted. It will be appreciated that there may be a good deal of rather trivial argument as to whether one or the other of the two opinions should be chosen, according to which of these two principles is preferred.
  • 40.a) for “Fara’id al­ Usul”, see above, note 26. b) “Kitab al­Makasib”, also by the Shaykh al­Ansari, an extensive exposition of the section in fiqh on transactions. c) “Kifayat al­Usul” (2 vols, Tehran, n.d.) by “Akhund” Mulla Muhammad Kazim al­Khurasani (d. 1329/1911), a systematic text on usul al­fiqh.
  • 41.After the student (talaba, lit. ‘seeker’) has completed his reading of the main texts and mastered the necessary preliminary sciences, he may continue to the more detailed, but also more specialised, courses given by the main teachers of the subjects concerned. These lessons, the dars­i kharij, are kharij to (outside, beyond) the texts, and the teacher will expound his own opinions, thus teaching the actual practice of ijtihad. The teacher will be able to assess the abilities of his pupils in these classes, and, in the case of fiqh, may subsequently award a certificate of ijtihad to those he considers to have mastered all the required skills and to be consequently in a position to employ them to arrive at their own legal opinions (see also above, note 23).
  • 42.a) “Wasa’il al­Shi`a” (ed. `A. al­Rabbani M. al­Razi, 20 vols, Tehran, 1376 ­1389), by the Shaykh Muhammad b. al­Hasan al­Hurr al­`Amili (d. 1104/1693); the most comprehensive collection of hadith relevant to fiqh, arranged according to subject matter. b) “Jawahir al­Kalam” (ed. `A. Quchani et al., 43 vols, Najaf-Qum-Tehran, 1377­1401), by the Shaykh Muhammad Hasan b. Baqir al­Najafi (d. 1266/1849); an extensive commentary on the “Sharayi` al­Islam” by the Muhaqqiq al­Hilli (602/1202 ­ 676/1277).
  • 43.The Shaykh `Abd al­Karim b. Muhammad Ja`far al­Mirjirdi al­Yazdi al­Hairi (1276/1859­60 ­ 1355/1937), whose move from Arak to Qum in 1920 began the modern history of that city as a centre of Shi`i learning.
  • 44.The Sayyid Ahmad al­Husayni al­Zanjani (1308/1890 ­ 1393/1973), a Qummi scholar. His “al­Kalam Yajurru l­Kalam” (3 vols, Tehran, 1363/1944) is a compendium of historical, literary, biographical and hadith information.
  • 45.By the Shaykh al­Ansari
  • 46.“Al­Mufradat fi Gharib al­Qur’an”, (ed. M. S. al­Kilani, Cairo, 1961), by Abu l­Qasim al­Husayn b. Muhammad b. al­Mafdal al­Isfahani (d. 502/1108­9), a famous lexicon of obscure meanings in the Qur’an.