Iǧtihād and taqlīd in Sunnī and Šīʿī Islam

The theme of iǧtihād and taqlīd, by pointing to the notional antagonism between independent reasoning on the one hand and submission to the argument of authority on the other, plunges us into the heart of the debates among Muslims, Sunnis as well as Šīʿis, on the most essential issues of their faith: What is authority in Islam? What are its sources of reference? What is the place of rational reasoning as authority? What role do the revelation of God and the Sunna of the Prophet —or Imāms, for Šīʿis— play in relation to reason?

Since the relationship between taqlīd and iǧtihād is complex, the thematic dossier of this issue of MIDEO proposes to deepen both logics in the light of the Islamic heritage. The history of Islamic thought shows that distinctions have indeed been made between the fundamental principles (uṣūl) and the branches of Fiqh (furūʿ), that relationships have been elaborated with other connected notions (iḫtilāf, ittibāʿiǧmāʿtarǧīḥ), that taqlīd has been evaluated in different ways (ḥarāmmaḏmūmmubāḥ), and that distinctions have been made between degrees of iǧtihād. Beyond the rivalry between the two logics, it was necessary to verify whether or not these notions are within a continuum, and that they are not incompatible, although these two hegemonic perspectives oppose one another.

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