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The Initial Steps

During the first three centuries since the advent of Islam a significant part of the history of fiqh in Iran had become intermingled with the history of hadith and as far as the various trends in this field were concerned Iranian narrators of ahādith had played a very crucial role in the formation of the science of fiqh both in the Shiite as well as the Sunni circles. However, as regards the various trends in the field of ijtihād were concerned, the fiqhi circles of Iran provided the best atmosphere for the growth and development of such inclinations.

In the Sunni circle special mention must be made of the status of Abu Hanifah, a Kufa-based scholar of Iranian origin, who has been known as the most prominent “pro-verdict” jurist and who was the founder of the Hanafi school of thought. Moreover, it is noteworthy that immediately following the spread of Abu Hanifah’s fiqhi views in Iraq these views had come to be propagated - during his very lifetime - by some of his Iranian students like Nuh bin Abi Maryam Marvzi in Iran, as a result of which they were welcomed in some parts of Iran and in Khorāsān in particular. In the Shiite circle reference must be made to the pro-ijtihād approach of Hishām bin Hakam who had carved a niche for himself particularly among the Shiites of eastern Iran, and owing to the endeavors of such Iranian scholars like Fazl bin Shāzān Neishāburi, whose school continued to function in Khorāsaān even long after its decline in Iraq..

From the mid 3rd Century AH/9th Century AD onwards a new trend began in some fiqhi circles whereby the “pro-verdict” approach came to be gradually abandoned in favor of the apparent meaning of narrations and ahādith. Here, too, the Iranian scholars from both the Shiite as well as the Sunni schools played a very significant role. For instance, Dāwood Esfahāni, the most prominent Sunni jurist and the founder of the “Zāheri” school was an Iranian scholar of repute. Similarly, within the Shiite school, too, the key roles were played by Iranian scholars like Abu Sahl Nobakhti and Ibn Qobbah Rāzi.

During the early 4th Century AH/10th Century AD and following the emergence of a move to curb the trend of the emergence of new schools a short-lived movement was initiated by some jurists who believed in the free-will of man, the most prominent of whom were Iranians. This movement had its roots in the inclination of the Iranians towards the viewpoint that supported man’s will. In other words, the notion of adopting the best viewpoints in the various fields of Islamic sciences had also permeated into the area of Islamic fiqh. Moreover, the pioneers of this movement, who have been recognized as the prime supporters of the belief in man’s free-will in the history of the Islamic jurisprudence were the three Iranian scholars called Mohammad bin Jarir Tabari, Ibn Khazimah Neishāburi, and Ibn Manzar Neishāburi.

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad " Iran Entry " The Great Islamic Encyclopedia . Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 , pp. 660


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