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
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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