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In: Islam at 250
The History and Doctrines of the Akhbārī Shīʿī School
The Akhbārī School dominated the intellectual landscape of Imāmī Shiʿism between the Seventeenth and early Nineteenth Centuries. Its principal doctrines involved a reliance on scripture (primarily the sayings or akhbār of the Shiʿite Imams) and a rejection of the rational exegetical techniques which had become orthodox doctrine in Imāmī theology and law. However, the Akhbārīs were not simple literalists, as they are at times portrayed in secondary literature. They developed a complex theory of exegesis in which texts could be interpreted, whilst at the same time remaining doggedly committed to the ability of the revelatory texts to provide answers to theological and legal questions arising within the Shīʿī community. This book is the first in-depth study of the intellectual development and historical influence of the Akhbārī School.
In: Visions of Sharīʿa
In: Patronate and Patronage in Early and Classical Islam
In: Islamic Law in Theory
In: Islamic Law in Theory
In: Accusations of Unbelief in Islam
Two Theories of Shī‘ī Jurisprudence
In this volume, two classical texts of legal theory (usūl al-fiqh) are analysed. The authors of these works belonged to two schools of Shī‘ī jurisprudence: Yūsuf al-Baḥrānī (d. 1186/1772) was a key figure in the Akhbārī school, and his adversary, Muḥammad Bāqir al-Bihbahāanī (d. 1206/1791-2) was credited with the revival of the Usūli school and the defeat of Akhbarism after Baḥrānī's death. Through a comparison of the two writers' theories, this work describes the major areas of dispute between the two schools, examining how their different epistemologies lead to different conceptions of the sources and interpretation of the Sharī‘a, God's law for humanity. This work will, then, be of interest to historians of Islamic thought generally, and Shī‘ī thought and Islamic legal theory, in particular.
In: Islamic Legal Thought


In Imāmī legal theory, the akhbār of the Imams form one of the material sources of law, alongside the Qur'ān and Prophetic hadīths. The akhbār are presented in compendia, assembled by Shi'ite collectors in the fourth and fifth century AH/tenth and eleventh century CE, four of which subsequently came to be regarded as "canonical" in Imāmī law. In this essay, I examine the processes at work in the collation of these "canonical" akhbār collections. These processes, I argue, were influenced by an emerging juristic tradition in Imāmī Shi'ism. As Imāmī thinkers became increasingly concerned with fiqh and the elucidation of the Sharī'a, the collectors developed new techniques of selection, presentation and organisation. The akhbār collections became a material source upon which jurists could draw in their fiqh discussions, rather than the law itself. As an example of the processes at work in the collection and presentation of akhbār, I examine the issue of tayammum, ritual purification by sand rather than water.

In: Islamic Law and Society