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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines issues surrounding the historiography of ijtihad within the context of Islamic law. It considers the politics informing debates about whether the “gates” were ever closed, and what “closure” implies about Islamic law. It then discusses calls for the “reopening” of the “gates”, suggesting that such calls seem to reflect more about the conditions of modernity that pose new questions to a tradition with a considerable history, and less about the study of Islamic law. It also reviews the scholarship on ijtihad as a topic of legal theory in the usul al-fiqh genre and in relation to contemporary issues in legal philosophy and interpretation, along with the discourse of ijtihad in the modern period and its significance as a proxy for underlying concerns about epistemology, legal education, and authority. Finally, it outlines new scholarly directions for research on ijtihad.

Keywords: historiography, ijtihad, Islamic law, politics, gates of ijtihad, legal theory, legal philosophy, epistemology, legal education, authority

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