Ijtihad and the Refutation of Nabhani

Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Ijtihad and the Refutation of Nabhani

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Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi (Iraq, 18571924) was the foremost proponent of religious reform in late Ottoman Iraq. A prolific writer, he addressed such controversial religious issues as independent reasoning (ijtihad) in Islamic law and innovations in worship. He also contributed to the reform movement by searching for and publishing the works of earlier scholars like Ibn Taymiyya (12631328). His modernist inclination appears in arguments for the harmony of modern scientific views, like heliocentrism, with the Qur'an. Alusi came from a long line of prominent religious scholars, the most famous of whom was his grandfather, the author of a major exegesis of the Qur'an. After a traditional religious education, he taught in several Baghdad mosques and seminaries. Around 1890, he began to criticize popular veneration of saints tombs and the inclusion of music and dance in Sufi rituals. In 1902, conservative scholars plotted to remove him from Baghdad for allegedly spreading Wahhabi ideas, but their effort failed. Alusi gathered a small number of religious students who continued to pursue Islamic reform in Iraq. He is also notable for attracting the attention of European scholars. He befriended the great French Orientalist Louis Massignon (18831962), and he won a prize from the Stockholm Oriental Languages Academy for his three-volume history of the pre-Islamic Arabs. This selection is excerpted from a polemical attack, published anonymously, on a scholar who objected to ijtihad. After the Ottoman Young Turk Revolution of 1908, his publishers wrote Alusi's name by hand on each copy of the book.1

Chapter.  10958 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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