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Some Preliminary Observations on al-Šāfiī and Later Usūl al-Fiqh: The Case of the Term bayān

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This article follows the reception of Šāfiī's (d. 204/820) concept of bayān, beginning with Ğāhiz (d. 255/868) and continuing with discussions in selected later works of usūl al-fiqh. For Šāfiī, in his Risāla, the term covered categories of divine legislative pronouncements and hermeneutical categories for addressing apparent contradictions between them. Ğāhiz, in the course of elaborating his own, different concept of bayān, seems to have been polemically engaged with Šāfiī's. For Ğāhiz, as for the later usūl authors, the term connotes a successful act of communication, yet later authors continued to attempt to explain Šāfiī's use of the term, which fit badly into their own conceptual framework. The disjunction between Šāfiī's and later authors' use of the term is emblematic of what is tentatively termed the linguistic turn in mature usūl al-fiqh.

Affiliations: 1: University of Pennsylvania

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