The Past, Present and Future of Shīʿī Ijtihād

Al-Mahdi Institute presents its 6th annual fiqhī workshop on “The Past, Present and Future of Shīʿī Ijtihād” on the 5th-6th July, 2018.

This fiqhī workshop at the Al-Mahdi Institute sought to facilitate scholarship by directly addressing questions that analyse the developmental aspects of ‘Shīʿī Ijtihād’. Ijtihād, particularly in the Shīʿī milieu, has been continuously evolving in its function and application since its practice was formalised. The evolution of Shīʿī Ijtihād has been – and is being – informed by stances towards notions of Shīʿī religious authority. The workshop encourages, and invites, paper proposals that analyse the following:

• The relationship between uṣūl al-fiqh and ijtihād; how historical and reformulist epistemic and ontological shifts within the Shīʿī legal discourse have impacted its hermeneutical standpoints and how this in turn has affected and continues to affect the practice ijtihād.

• Critical engagement with the development of orthodox Shīʿī notions of religious authority structures and their current status.

• An examination of developments in Ijtihād for Shīʿa Muslims in a western context.

The workshop, therefore hosted presenters from both traditional seminary and academic backgrounds, presenting from a range of disciplines. As has become an effective format in our previous annual workshops, the Fiqhī debates will be positioned alongside contributions from broader theological, historical and anthropological approaches – thereby enriching a multidisciplinary understanding of contemporary outlooks dealing with The Past, Present and Future of Shīʿī Ijtihād.

The participants who presented their findings at the workshop were:

Professor Devin J Stewart (Emory University) “Strategies of Sanctifying Ijtihād in Later Twelver Shi’ite Legal Theory” 


Dr Christopher Pooya Razavian (University of Birmingham) “Motahari, Social justice and fiqh’’


Dr Zackery Heern (Idaho State University) “Ijtihād and anti-Ijtihād in Shi‘i History”


Professor Robert Gleave (University of Exeter) “The controversy around Ijtihād in matt


Shaykh Kumail Rajani (University of Exeter) “Shiʿi Ijtihād: Juristic Exertion to Religious Establishment”


Professor Mohammad Rasekh (Shaheed Beheshti University) “How Progressive Can Ijtihād Be? A Word on Qā`idat Al-Mulāzima”


Shaykh Jaffer Ladak (Islamic Seminary of Kerbala) & Dr Mohammad Ghassemi (MIT)  “Augmented and Artificial Intelligence in Usul al-Fiqh: The scope for perfect computational reasoning in Ijtehad”


Sayed Hossein Qazwini (Islamic Seminary of Karbala)  “The Need for Ilm Al Rijal in Ijtihad”


Prof. Ay. Mohaghegh Damad (Shahid Beheshti University)  “Shiite Continuous Ijtehad in Dealing with the Issues of the Present Age”


Mohammad R. Kalantari (Royal Holloway University of London)  “Shiʿi Clerical Authority and the Dilemma of Trias Politica in Modern Era”


Mr Cameron Zargar (Near Eastern Languages & Culture)  “The authority of the muqallid: a bottom-up approach to taqlīd in Imami law”


Dr. Elvire Corboz (Aarhus University)  “The definition of scholarly capital in Iraq’s contemporary marja’iyya field”


Dr. Ali Fanaei (Al-Mahdi Institute)  “From “the ethics of slavery” to “the ethics of worship”: Some recent developments in Shi’a jurisprudence”


Dr Morgan Clarke (Oxford University)  “A more Reasonable and Equitable approach to Shi’i Ijtihad”


Prof. Seyed Mohammad Ghari S Fatemi (Al-Mahdi Institute) & Dr Ali Reza Bhojani (Al-Mahdi Institute & University of Nottingham)  “Ayat al-Nafr: A Quranic justification for collective Ijtihād ?


Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain  (Al-Mahdi Institute)  “Ijtihad and Taqlid within an existential framework”


Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina (George Mason University)  “Beyond ijtihad: in search of moral foundations of interpretive jurisprudence”


To see more images from the event, click here