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The First Shāfiī: The Traditionalist Legal Thought of Abū Ya qūb al-Buwaytī (d. 231/846)

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Abū Ya qūb al-Buwaytī, the first successor of Muhammad b. Idrīs al-Shāfiī, made an important but hitherto unappreciated contribution to the formation of the Shāfiī school of law and the convergence of the rival legal approaches of the traditionalists (ahl al- hadīth) and the rationalists (ahl al-ra'y) over the course of the 3d/9th century. An analysis of the content and transmission history of al-Buwaytī's recently discovered Mukhtasar, the earliest work of secondary Shāfiī scholarship, demonstrates that (1) the particular interpretation of al-Shāfiī's teaching developed and transmitted by al-Buwaytī was marked by a characteristically traditionalist emphasis on hadith; (2) al-Buwaytī's Shāfiīsm was ultimately methodological in nature, rooted in al-Shāfiī's legal hermeneutic and the central "hadith principle"; and (3) al-Buwaytī's hadith-oriented approach found its most enthusiastic audience among the ahl al-hadīth, to whom it offered a way of engaging in juristic reasoning (ra'y ) while maintaining the supremacy of hadith.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard University, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 38 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138


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