Religious authority and modern ijtihad

Religious authority and modern ijtihad

Religious authority and modern ijtihÁd

A discussion with Sayyid KamÁl al-ÍaydarÐ




Sayyid KamÁl al-ÍaydarÐ is one of the pre-eminent scholarly personalities amongst the ShÐÝah today. He is well-known for his intellectual weight in the hawzahs and he has had a lengthy experience of studying and teaching in these institutions, stretching for decades. Many students have graduated from his lessons.

Sayyid KamÁl is distinguished by his scholarly output, which until now consists of almost one hundred volumes in various fields of scholarly enquiry; fiqh, uÒÙl, sÐrah, kalÁm, philosophy, ÝirfÁn, tafsÐr, ethics, logic and others.

Recently, he has claimed religious authority (marjaÝiyyah dÐniyyah), issuing a legal manual for his followers. His theories about marjaÝiyyah, its conditions and its role have attracted debate in scholarly circles.

In turn, the journal al-IjtihÁd wa al-tajdÐd is honoured to have this discussion with Sayyid al-ÍaydarÐ in order to shed light upon the key points of his theory of ijtihÁd, fiqh, uÒÙl, marjaÝiyyah and the issues of the day.


Al-IjtihÁd wa al-TajdÐd (IJ): The demands of the modern era require us to go back and correct many issues, not sufficing ourselves with classical evaluations of them, lest we find ourselves reduced to chaff on the wind. One such area in need of reassessment is that of marjaÝiyyah and ijtihÁd. Islam has placed a great deal of importance on this matter, whether in thought, epistolary experience or legislation.

Today, after this glorious awakening, we confront a cultural challenge on all levels, insofar as ijtihÁd and marjaÝiyyah have entered the cultural melee in response to other intellectual currents. In particular, it is the area of religious authority where we face the greatest challenge. And this demands an Islamic initiative to address it with full objectivity; to clarify the main Islamic ideas in this regard and to sketch for us a practical scheme for applying theory to reality via cultural and scholarly mediums.

The religious authority, Sayyid KamÁl al-ÍaydarÐ has conducted extensive studies and championed grand initiatives in the matter of ijtihÁd and religious authority in the present age; he offers an integrated Islamic viewpoint through his books in various topics of religious scholarship. For this reason, the journal al-IjtihÁd wa al-TajdÐd has opted to carry out an interview with him.