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Imagined Religious Institutions: Pre-modern Hanbali Ulama in the Juristic Sphere from (850-1350)


Alaoudh, Abdullah (2018). Imagined Religious Institutions: Pre-modern Hanbali Ulama in the Juristic Sphere from (850-1350). Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (EJIMEL), 6:1-29.

Abstract

This article discusses the features of “religious institutions” in the pre-modern Hanbali context. As we will see, the religious institutions were somewhat like the “imagined communities” that Benedict Anderson describes in his seminal work. Most religious movements and productions are not directly traceable to formally organized institutions and even when such institutions happened to exist, their function was usually unrelated to the religious work, or to religious intellectual activities as a whole, or in any case less relevant than the broader sphere of jurists. This sphere is discussed in the context of the clergy in the Sunni and Hanbali experience, where hierarchy and institutionalization were rarely operative. The article ends with the debate of whether ulama, namely the Hanbalis, represented a “corporate group.” Different studies adopt different approaches to determine whether ulama and jurists have established the type of solidarity that would qualify them as a corporate group. I argue that, although many jurists were members of such corporate groups, not all of them were. The general juristic sphere encompassed many who were members neither of a corporate group or even of a madhhab. This feature of free-floating jurisitc sphere allowed jurists to protect their domain from both internal and external controls.

Abstract

This article discusses the features of “religious institutions” in the pre-modern Hanbali context. As we will see, the religious institutions were somewhat like the “imagined communities” that Benedict Anderson describes in his seminal work. Most religious movements and productions are not directly traceable to formally organized institutions and even when such institutions happened to exist, their function was usually unrelated to the religious work, or to religious intellectual activities as a whole, or in any case less relevant than the broader sphere of jurists. This sphere is discussed in the context of the clergy in the Sunni and Hanbali experience, where hierarchy and institutionalization were rarely operative. The article ends with the debate of whether ulama, namely the Hanbalis, represented a “corporate group.” Different studies adopt different approaches to determine whether ulama and jurists have established the type of solidarity that would qualify them as a corporate group. I argue that, although many jurists were members of such corporate groups, not all of them were. The general juristic sphere encompassed many who were members neither of a corporate group or even of a madhhab. This feature of free-floating jurisitc sphere allowed jurists to protect their domain from both internal and external controls.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (EJIMEL) > Archive > 6/2018 > Articles
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:06 Jun 2018 13:00
Last Modified:05 Nov 2018 18:09
Publisher:Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Legal Studies (CIMELS), University of Zurich
ISSN:1664-5707
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://www.ejimel.uzh.ch

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