Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On the call of 'revivalists' for ijtihād vs. taḥqīq

For many of the "revivalists" of the 18th and 19th century, the emphasis fell on ijtihād, rather than on taḥqīq in the sense of rational or mystical-experiential verification of received scholarly opinions. As has been pointed out by R. Peters, the call for renewed ijtihād in the 18th and 19th centuries tended to go hand in hand, not with "rationalism" or "modernism" as is often supposed, but with "fundamentalism," that is, a radically scripturalist and antischolastic stance. [88] The prevalent scholastic tradition was found wanting, not because it was insufficiently "rational" or "flexible," but precisely because it was believed to have been too flexible and rational through the ages and had cease to be sufficiently grounded in the Qur'an and the Sunna. The 18th and 19th century "revivalists," naturally enough, tended to portray their opponents as rigid and unthinking imitators. Less understandably, a host of modern historians, both Western and Eastern, have uncritically adopted this partisan view. Consequently, the very existence of an alternative to both scripturalist ijtihād and unthinking imitation was lost to sight. The age before the 18th and 19th century "revivalist" ijtihād movements was accordingly viewed as marred by rigid and unthinking imitation.
-Khaled El-Rouayheb, "Opening the Gate of Verification: The Forgotten Arab-Islamic Florescence of the 17th Century," Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 38, No. 2 (May, 2006), pp. 275-6.