On Thursday 19th January 2017, Al-Mahdi Institute held a Research seminar on the topic of; “Lost in Translation: Taqlid and Marja’iyya in Shiite Islam” conducted by Dr Mohammadreza Kalantari of Royal Holloway, University of London. The seminar was attended by AMI students, faculty and many interested members of the public.
An abstract of his research reads;
Usuli Shi‘ism categorises laymen into Mujtahid, Muqallid, or Muhtat. Mujtahid is the qualified cleric capable of deducing the religious law from the resources and evidences. Muqallid is a layman who follows the verdicts of Mujtahid in auxiliaries of the faith. Muhtat, on the other hand, is a lay Shiite who does not follow anyone, yet acts on such precaution that assures him the fulfilment of his religious obligations. The question of Taqlid and Marja’iyya has been embedded at the heart of this categorisation. Notwithstanding, throughout the history, the concept of Taqlid, its definition, and practices stimulated numerous critics and some asked for its reconstruction facing the contingencies of the modern era. Reviewing the Shi‘i jurisprudential evolutionary phases, this paper tries to provide a more clear outlook towards the concept. It also evaluates three approaches to readdress the practice of Taqlid, the follower-Marja’ relationship, in Shi‘ism: (1) The minimalist religion, (2) Council of Jurists, and (3) the A.I.Jtihad.
The seminar focused on the modern approach to understanding Ijtihad, Taqlid and Ihtiyat. Following on from the traditional definitions, Dr Kalantari delved into the reassessment of Ijtihad and states ‘Fiqh constitutes the eterality of Islam; its dynamism makes it capable of addressing issues in different times and places via Ijtihad’. The seminar was highly captivating and valuable to attendees.
Dr Mohammadreza Kalantari has been awarded his PhD from Politics and International Relations Department, Royal Holloway, University of London. His principal research interests focus on the interaction of doctrines, elite ideologies, Islamic Law, and regional politics in the Middle East, with a particular focus on how the Shiite principles would influence and be influenced by the contingencies of the contemporary era. In general his research and teaching interests covers: Religion and Politics, Islamic law, Shi’ism (Zaidis, Ismailis, Alawite, Imamis), and Modern Middle East (Iran, Lebanon, and Iraq).
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