Research Seminar: What’s the point of Uṣūl al-fiqh? Literalism in modern Shīʿī legal theory

On the 12th November 2014, The Al-Mahdi Institute held a Research Seminar with Professor Robert Gleave from Exeter University on the topic of; “What’s the point of Uṣūl al-fiqh? Literalism in modern Shīʿī legal theory” The seminar had a high turnout and was attended by students, AMI faculty and interested members of the public.

Professor of Arabic Studies in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, Professor Rob Gleave spoke about Uṣūl al-fiqh with a comparison of old and modern day legal theories. There was also an opportunity for an interactive Question and Answer session between the attendees and Professor Gleave which was the perfect platform for students to clear any confusions they had regarding the issue.

An abstract of his paper read;

“Every now again, a Shīʿī jurist writes, in his work of uṣūl al-fiqh, that the answer to a particular problem has no effect beyond the genre of uṣūl and the discussion of the topic is purely “academic” (ʿilmī). He (or occasionally she) usually means by this that whether we answer a question in one way or another, it makes no difference to the fiqh. One such instance is the existence of legal literal meanings (al-ḥaqāʾiq al-sharʿiyya). Whether the discussion of these types of meanings of words is anything more than “academic” (a term which is sometimes used to mean “irrelevant and useless” in English) has divided Shīʿī jurists in the modern period. I will look at this dispute and see what (if anything) it tells us about the role (if any) of uṣūl in the law making process.”

To view more images from the Seminar, please click here.

Our next Research Seminar will be held on the 10th of December with Prof. Oliver Scharbrodt of Chester University on the topic of;

“Translating Al-Kafi: how to make a classical Shii text accessible to 21st century readers”

For more information about the Research Seminars or to register your attendance, please email: [email protected]