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The Rejection of Imitation, in Theory and Practice

In discussions of fiqhi schools the use of the term “discipleship” should not be viewed as implying the blind imitation of a founder by his students. None the less, it should be borne in mind that despite persistent attempts by the founders of major fiqhi schools to dissuade other faqihs from imitating them, the close adherence by many of their followers to their methods of reasoning may hardly be interpreted as anything but imitation. In the 3rd century AH, there arose voices of opposition to imitation from various fiqhi quarters, both in terms of theory and practice. The strongest dissention appeared among the Hanafites, a trend that continued into the 4th century AH and one that found its reflections in the Hanafite manifestos of the period. The same opposition to imitation is also seen among the followers of other fiqhi schools such as the Malikites. Among the most vociferous opponents of imitation in the 4th century AH were the Zahirites whose opposition harked back to the days of their leader Dawud Isfahani. In fact, many Zahirites refused to label themselves as Dawud’s followers, a fact that is in clear evidence in the diverging opinions contained in their writings. The 4th-century Dawudites shared in their beliefs against the use of ra’y and literalism as foundational, while they not only diverged over matters of secondary importance but over principles and methods, such as the authority of al-khabar al-wahid on which they took varying stances from Dawud. The figures who made the greatest contribution to the usuli structure of the movement in this period included `Abd Allah b. Mughlis, Abu al-Faraj Fami Shirazi and Ibn Hazm Andalusi

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 ,pp.450 - 451

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