A Silent uṣūl Revolution? Al-Qāsimī, iǧtihād, and the Fundamentals of tafsīr

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If one wishes to practice iǧtihād in any knowledge discipline, knowledge of the uṣūl of that discipline is required. In facilitating this focus on uṣūl necessary for iǧtihād, Ǧamāl al-Dīn al-Qāsimī (d. 1914) from Damascus was a pivotal figure in the early 20th century. I argue that al-Qāsimī did not introduce a fundamentally new approach to the fundamentals of fiqh, tafsīr or ḥadīṯ. He merely brought long forgotten concepts and texts back into the limelight. This still both necessitated and facilitated iǧtihād in a wider realm than only fiqh, also including tafsīr, ḥadīṯ, creed, and even linguistics. I first show how al-Qāsimī revived direct engagement with the Islamic primary sources in his environment by disseminating diverse works on uṣūl. Second, I show how his treatise on the fundamentals of tafsīr necessitated a project of reinterpreting the entire Qurʾān according to these fundamentals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-61
Number of pages41
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 2021


*?This work is part of the research program “The origins? growth and dissemination of Salafi Qur’an Interpretation: the role of al-Qasimi (d. 1914) in the shift from premodern to modern modes of interpretation” (Project no. 016.Veni.195.105)? financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). ?y gratitude goes to Prof. El Shamsy? who generously shared the manuscript of his Rediscovering?the?Islamic?Classics with me before its publication. I also benefited a lot from the comments of Ammeke Kateman? ?elle Lycklema and Simon Leese on a draft of this article. All errors are my own. 1. The text they discussed was ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Šaʿrān 가뜀Ks ašf? al-ġumma? ʿan? ǧamīʿ? al-umma. This work appeared in print for the first time in Cairo in 1864. This is a relatively early date for a religious text to be printed? which may indicate its popularity in the scholarly circles of Cairo in that age? liberated as they were from Ottoman restrictions on scholarly culture that were still very tangible in Damascus. Leila Hudson has shown that prints of the work were present in private libraries of Damascus in the time of al-Qāsim 가 as well? which makes it likely that al-Qāsim 가 and his group owned a copy as well. Its availability in print probably made it easier for the group to use it for their discussions than it would have been if they had to rely merely on available manuscript copies in Damascus. I have not (yet) been able to locate and

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Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


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