Main Article Content
The Companions of the Prophet ï·º established the methods of understanding and interpreting divine texts, as they formed the foundations of IjtihÄd. However, ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä« was the first Muslim scholar to write the principles of Islamic jurisprudence (UsÅ«l al-Fiqh). Yet, Arab modernists in their attempts to devalue the rules of reading, understanding and interpreting divine texts, attack ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä« and accuse him of â€œinnovatingâ€ in the religion by â€œinventingâ€ UsÅ«l al-Fiqh. Likewise, they have accused him of â€œimprisoningâ€ the Muslim intellect and mind regarding the authority of the divine texts as he bound it to methodology. Moreover, they accused him of having cooperated with the Umayyads. By attacking ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä«, Arab modernists seek to create an epistemological divide with the heritage of UsÅ«l al-Fiqh as well with semantics and the rules governing the Arabic language. They aim to radically change the interpretation of the Qurâ€™Än and Sunnah in order to get a free and fluid â€œmodern Islamic jurisprudenceâ€. This study uses inductive, comparative and critical analysis methods to assess the credibility of these allegations against ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä« and to evaluate their scientific basis. This study proves that these allegations are unfounded. It demonstrates first that ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä« did not innovate in religion. Second, it reveals that the Companions themselves established the rules of UsÅ«l al-Fiqh, the hierarchy of sources, rules of interpretation (DalÄ«l) and shaped the conditions of IjtihÄd. Third, this study proves that ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä« did not achieve an epistemological move from the reasoning of the Arabic rhetoric of IjtihÄd and its cognitive system. Fourth, this study verifies that ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä« did not cooperate with the Umayyads. On the other hand, this study exposes the Arab modernists who, by accusing and devaluing ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä« and his contributions, are subjective and have transgressed the scientific methods and ethics.
KEYWORDS: ImÄm Ash-ShÄfiâ€˜Ä«, Arab Modernism, UsÅ«l al-Fiqh, Arabic language, Modernism.