Shāfiʻī and the interpretation of the role of the Qurʾān and the Ḥadīth
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This thesis deals with Shafi’i's theories on the role in usul al-fiqh of the Qur’an and the hadith. By detailed reference to Shifi’i’s writings, it becomes clear that his chief concern was with the role of the sunna of the Prophet, Islamic scholars in previous generations had referred to a number of sources in defence of regional attitudes. Their failure to produce a theory of sources enabled Shaf’i to charge them with inconsistency. Certain scholars of his own generation were apparently alleging the sufficiency of the Qur’an source. Inter-school squabbles involving the first group of scholars represented in Shafi’i’s view as great a threat to the overriding importance which the party known as ahl al-hadith desired to secure for the hadith of the Prophet as did the more direct assault of the second group's insistence upon the primary significance of the Qur’an source. An attempt is made to show that Shaf’i’s source theories were constructed in response to the arguments of both groups and were directed to the creation of a unifying principle which would solve the problem of ikhtilaf al-muslimin while simultaneously guaranteeing minimum disruption for the fiqh conclusions which Shafi’i’ had espoused. Since he proposed to document these conclusions on the basis of the sunna, Shafi’i’s theories were designed to place the sunna beyond further scholarly attack. The study consists of nine chapters. Chapter one examines Shafi’ i's intellectual life, his acquaintance with scholars from different regions and of different schools. Chapter two deals with the materials employed by his predecessors to document their legal doctrines, and Shafi’i’s handling of these materials in his efforts to systematize the sunni fiqh. Chapters three, four and five deal with his endeavour to establish the overriding importance for the sunni fiqh, of the sunna embodied in the hadith of the Prophet. Chapter nine discusses his views on the isnad. Chapters six and seven examine his endeavour to establish a necessary connection between the Qur’an and the sunna, and the resultant subjection of the qur’an to the sunna by means of the Shafi’i theory of bayan and exclusion (takhsis). Chapter eight deals with his views on qiyas, the only form of legal reasoning of which he approved, and the resultant curtailing of independent legal reasoning and, thereby, of the development of the fiqh.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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