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Khiṭāb "Discourse" in the Jurisprudential Theory of Ibn 'Aqīl Al-Ḥanbalī

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Chapter Summary

The concept of khitab is the very basis of the science of usul al-fiqh, though it is a term whose proper locus is literature and linguistics. Here a very brief survey of the concept of discourse (khitab) in one medieval scholar's work on Islamic legal theory is offered. To do full justice to the topic is not possible here; a full treatment of the notion of khitab would require an expertise in literary theory and literature found perhaps uniquely in the honoree, Professor Wolfhart Heinrichs. It choses to work mostly from al-Wadih fi usul al-fiqh by Ibn cAqil. It is clear that Ibn cAqil does not understand by khitab only the speech of God but all aspects of a communication that can, using any possible analytic tool, be understood to convey information. "Discourse" comes closest to approximating the semantic field of the word khitab as used in Islamic jurisprudence.

Keywords: Discourse; Ibn cAqïl; Islamic jurisprudence; KHITAB; usul al-fiqh



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