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A Broad Survey of Influential Fiqh in the 2nd Century AH

In the 2nd century AH, the majority of faqihs in major cities were considered as Traditionalist, in spite of cases of exception such as Ibn Jurayr and `Uthman Bati who were among the practitioners of ra’y. Though there existed a multitude of these Traditionalist faqihs throughout the Islamic world, they included a few with a lasting imprint on the history of Muslim jurisprudence. Among this minority was Abu `Umar Awza`i (d. 157 AH), the great Syrian jurist and traditionist, who had benefited from the company of masters from Syria, Hijaz, Iraq, Egypt and Yamamah.The scattered remnants of Awza`i’s works indicate his method to have been similar to that of Malik, i.e. in addition to the Qur’an and the prophetic sunnah he made wide use of the common practices of the Muslim community as a criterion in deciphering the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He only differs with Malik in that he does not place exclusive emphasis on the traditions of the Medinese people, or for that matter on the conventions of any other locale. He also gave special weight to ijma` and his works contain numerous references to the consensus of scholars over a particular point of law. Though Awza`i is considered among the Partisans of Hadith, he, like many other Traditionalist faqihs of the 2nd century AH, accords reasonable acceptance to the practice of ra’y and qiyas.Among other influential faqihs of the period mention should be made of the unrivalled Kufan jurist Sufyan Thawri (d. 161 AH). In spite of his great leaning towards Traditionalism, Sufyan also believed in ra’y. His al-Jami` fi ’l-ra’y, a compendium of his fiqhi views, enjoyed long-lasting popularity. Though Sufyan chastised Abu Hanifah for his belief in ra’y and rejected his fiqhi methodology, he, like his contemporaries, was not a stranger to the practice of deductive reasoning. In fact, Sufyan speaks of the rationalist Kufan jurists Ibn Abi Layli and Ibn Shabramah in the highest of terms, a fact indicative of his support for the moderate use of intellectual methods in fiqh. A statistical comparison of Sufyan’s fatwas with those of Abu Hanifah indicates a close affinity between their views, a fact which stems from their common traditional sources with their roots in local Kufan tradition.

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 ,pp.445 - 4.

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