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Akhbarism vs. Usulism

At the outset, it should be borne in mind that simultaneous with the rise of usuli tendencies in the school of Hillah, an opposite current was being formed toward the later part of the 6th century AH whose roots were struck in the same geographical environment. Among the prominent members of the latter movement was Radi al-Din Ibn Tawus, the contemporary compatriot of Muhaqqiq Hilli, who, unlike the renowned faqihs of his land, did not pursue an usuli line in his fiqhi writings. In fact, he was quite critical of the jurists who depended on other than the words of the Infallible Imams (PBUT) and who were quick to refer to their own judgment. He went as far as considering the criticisms of Sadid al-Din Hamasi, among the post-Tusi faqihs, whom he viewed as his imitators, as being words of approval. The two elements of Akhbari view comprised a rejection of usuli methods and the restriction of the sources of religious rules to the assertions of the Infallible Imams (PBUT), on the one hand, and a refusal to imitate, on the other; both of which came to assume a systematic expression in the writings of Muhammad Amin Astarabadi (d. 1033 AH).

In his writings, Astarabadi, as an exponent of Akhbari ideas, lashes out against the usuli methods of the school of Hillah as incompatible with the structure of Imami fiqh. A major portion of his al-Fawa’id al-madinah is devoted to the elaboration of the nature of ijtihad and its various related issues, as well as to the criticism of the ijtihadi and zanni methods of the school of Hillah and their forerunners. For instance, Astarabadi questions the validity of `Allamah Hilli’s system of classification and evaluation of hadiths as intrusive and incongruous with the history of Imami scholarship. The Akhbari view goes as far as raising doubt with regard to the authority of the literal sense of the Qur’an. In fact, Astarabadi is of the contention that the meaning of the Qur’an and sunnah cannot be had except through the hadiths of the Infallible Imams (PBUT), thus restricting the sources of fiqhi reasoning to traditions (akhbar).

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 ,pp.454

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