Identity in the Margins: Unpublished Hanafi Commentaries on the Mukhtasar of Ahmad B. Muhammad Al-Quduri

in Islamic Law and Society
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An examination of a number of unpublished commentaries on the

Mukhtasar fī al-fiqh al-Hanafī

of Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Qudūrī (d. 428/1037), shows that the Hanafī

madhhab

gains its authority and identity through a pedagogy focused on the conflict of opinions. Hanafī

fiqh

scholarship provides a case study of how commentary functions to define and perpetuate the institutional identity of individual scholars and the

madhhab

to which they are attached. Over time, the distinctions among the Hanafī authorities and between the Hanafī authorities and other non-Hanafī authorities were stressed and these distinctions multiplied rather than diminished. It is this conflict of opinions which seems to characterize Hanafī

fiqh

scholarship and serves as the primary means for the identification of individual scholarship and the authority of the

madhhab

as a whole. These unpublished commentaries show that being a Hanafī is not a matter of imitating earlier opinions, but rather suggest that Hanafī identity is linked to the authority of the members of the Hanafī

madhhab

who have learned to do

fiqh

through the medium of the

ikhtilāf

displayed in Hanafī textbooks.

Identity in the Margins: Unpublished Hanafi Commentaries on the Mukhtasar of Ahmad B. Muhammad Al-Quduri

in Islamic Law and Society

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