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Identity in the Margins: Unpublished Hanafi Commentaries on the Mukhtasar of Ahmad B. Muhammad Al-Quduri

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An examination of a number of unpublished commentaries on the Mukhtasar fī al-fiqh al-Hanafī of Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Qudūrī (d. 428/1037), shows that the Hanafī madhhab gains its authority and identity through a pedagogy focused on the conflict of opinions. Hanafī fiqh scholarship provides a case study of how commentary functions to define and perpetuate the institutional identity of individual scholars and the madhhab to which they are attached. Over time, the distinctions among the Hanafī authorities and between the Hanafī authorities and other non-Hanafī authorities were stressed and these distinctions multiplied rather than diminished. It is this conflict of opinions which seems to characterize Hanafī fiqh scholarship and serves as the primary means for the identification of individual scholarship and the authority of the madhhab as a whole. These unpublished commentaries show that being a Hanafī is not a matter of imitating earlier opinions, but rather suggest that Hanafī identity is linked to the authority of the members of the Hanafī madhhab who have learned to do fiqh through the medium of the ikhtilāf displayed in Hanafī textbooks.


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