The conventional historiography of Jadidism begins with Abū l-Naṣr Qūrṣāwī’s (1776-1812) rejection of taqlīd and embrace of ijtihād, which was furthered by Shihāb al-Dīn Marjānī (1818-89), leading to the flowering of Jadidism proper at the beginning of the twentieth century. Beginning in the late 1950s, Qūrṣāwī’s Irshād li-l-ʿibād was put forward by Tatar academics seeking to support the narrative as the specific source of his views on ijtihād. The discussion of ijtihād in this text does not, however, conform to the Jadids’ conception of it, and the attempts to locate Jadidist ideals in it rely on highly anachronistic and specious interpretations. Based on the study of the relevant Soviet historiography and its sources, I argue that this narrative is not supported by the works of Qūrṣāwī or Marjānī but comes ultimately from Jadidist writings from the 1920s.
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