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The Discourses Regarding The Closure Of the Gate Of Ijtihad: The Case Of Joseph Schacht And Wael B. Hallaq
The question of whether the gate of ijtihad was closed has considerably preoccupied not only Islamic scholars, but also orientalists. Some of the orientalists who made research and studies in the field of Islamic Studies, asserted that after the Islamic law schools were established and completed their systematic structure, the gate of ijtihad had closed. One of the scholars who asserted so is Joseph Schacht. He argues that the gate of ijtihad was closed since the fourth century A.H., that after its formation in the early period, Islamic law lasted for centuries without any change, transforming into only a set of unchanging strict rules. This paper aims at revealing the invalidity of his argument. In fulfilling this aim and making the topic more understandable, I will first discuss Schact’s views about the origin of Islamic law and its formation in the early period, as well as his argument regarding the closure of the gate of ijtihad. Then, based upon the article “Was the gate of ijtihad closed?”, written by Wael Hallaq who is one of the scholars remarking the dynamic aspect of Islamic law throughout history, I will argue that Schact’s approach does not reflect the reality since reviewing the literature for the period from the fourth century onwards clearly reveals that each period had scholars who are capable of performing ijtihad and issued ijtihad in every period so, this gate was never closed.

Orientalism, Islamic Law, Gate of Ijtihad, Joseph Schacht, Wael b. Hallaq.

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