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Moral Rationalism and Independent rationality as a source of Sharī ͑a in Shī ͑ī uṣūl al-fiqh; In search of an ͑Adliyya reading of Sharī ͑a

BHOJANI, ALI-REZA (2013) Moral Rationalism and Independent rationality as a source of Sharī ͑a in Shī ͑ī uṣūl al-fiqh; In search of an ͑Adliyya reading of Sharī ͑a. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Within Shī ͑ī works of Sharī ͑a legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) there is a theoretical space for reason as an independent source of normativity alongside the Qur’ān and the Prophetic tradition. This space stems from a meta-ethical moral rationalism considered fundamental to Shī ͑ī theology. The position holds that unmediated reason is capable of understanding the morally praiseworthy and the morally blameworthy independently of revelation. Describing themselves as ͑Adliyya (literally the people of Justice) this meta-ethical position allows the Shī ͑a to attribute a substantive rational conception of justice to God, both in terms of His actions and His regulative instructions (aḥkām).
Despite the Shīʿī adoption of this meta-ethical position, and the jurisprudential space held for independent rationality that implies rational morality must be a condition for the validity of any Sharī ͑a precept attributed to a Just God, independent judgements of rational morality play little or no role in the actual inference of Sharī ͑a norms within mainstream contemporary Shī ͑ī thought. As part of a search for an ʿAdliyya reading of Sharī ͑a, this study examines the theoretical reason for why this moral rationalism plays no substantive role in the actual inference of Sharī ͑a precpets through a close examination of the notion of independent rationality as a source in modern Shī ͑ī uṣūl al-fiqh.
The obstacles preventing the ͑Adliyya moral rationalism from impacting the reading of fiqh in modern Shī ͑ī thought are shown to be purely epistemic. In line with the ‘emic’ approach adopted through the study, these epistemic obstcales are revistsed with the view of identifying scope for allowing a reading of Sharī ͑a that is consistent with the fundamental theological moral rationalism of Shī ͑ī thought. It is argued that judgements of rational morality, even when not definitively certain, can not be ignored in the face of the apparent meaning of texts that are themselves also not certain. A move towards an ͑Adliyya reading of Sharī ͑a demands that the strength of independent rational evidences be reconciled against the strength of any other apparently conflicting evidences such that independent judgements of rational morality act as a substantive condition for the validity of precpets attributed to a Just and moral God.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Moral rationalism"; "Sharī ͑a"; "rationality"; "Shī ͑ī"; "uṣūl al-fiqh"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Sep 2013 09:44

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