Ijtihād Holds Supremacy in Islamic Law: Muslim Communities and the Evolution of Law

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    Abstract

    While the traditional view of Islamic law (sharī( ah) and jurisprudence is to consider the Qur’an as the starting point for legal matters, followed by the prophetic tradition, and then resorting to various forms of “ijtihād”, it is argued here that the Qur’an was not really held in a position of legal supremacy. Since the time of the earliest Muslim community, it is “ijtihād” that has created the criteria by which Qur’anic and even prophetic rules are to be kept, suspended, and contradicted. Therefore, the Qur’an is not viewed historically as having legal supremacy for Islamic law and is not considered similar to some constitutions, against which laws are measured. Hence, in modern-day Islamic legal discourse, it would not be unreasonable to argue that “ijtihād” has supremacy in Islamic law, giving some flexibility to Muslim communities in the evolution of such laws.

    Original languageBritish English
    Article number369
    JournalReligions
    Volume13
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Apr 2022

    Keywords

    • constitution
    • jurisprudence
    • legal supremacy
    • legal theory
    • Qur’an
    • shari’ah

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