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I have previously alluded to the existence of different view points among the Fuqaha in regards the level of use of Ilm al-Rijal in the Istinbat (derivation of Ahkam from the Adilla) process, the view point that has found itself in the forefront in recent years - thanks to the efforts of Sayyid al-Khoei has been the so-called 'Isnad-first Analysis', whereby, any Hadith whose Isnad does not meet Dirayah standards is cast off. Seeking to demonstrate alternative views, this is a short essay that attempts to describe Sayyid al-Burujerdi's Manhaj in Istinbat, and the role he gives to Ilm al-Rijal within it. Any questions and analysis is welcome. THE MANHAJ OF SAYYID AL-BURUJERDI IN ISTINBAT AND THE ROLE OF ILM AL-RIJAL WITHIN IT Based on what the Sayyid has written in relation to the utility of the solitary report (Khabar al-Wahid) for deriving Ahkam in his discussions concerning the principles of jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh), we discover that he propagates resorting to Isnad criticism [i.e. using Ilm al-Rijal] exclusively for cases where a real contradiction among the Akhbar has been identified and not otherwise. In other words, and if the point is to be reformulated, the use of Ilm al-Rijal is limited only to those cases where the harmonization of a seeming contradiction between the Akhbar by various legitimate means has failed [i.e. a real contradiction has been identified], even then, Ilm al-Rijal is just one tool to be used in a descending tiered process to overcome the quagmire and select the preferred set of Akhbar (i.e. to obtain the ruling from). Beyond theoretical espousal, we find that this methodology has been rigorously followed by the Sayyid throughout his derivation processes in practical jurisprudence, and that it can be characterized as going through four main stages: (i) The collection of relevant Akhbar on a problem, (ii) Identifying a seeming contradiction among them, (iii) Harmonization process, (iv) A descending tiered resolution process [i.e. only if the harmonization is unsuccessful]. A breakdown of these stages is as provided below: Initially, he collects all the Akhbar from the authoritative collections that relate in any way to the problem, thereafter, he identifies the presence of a seeming contradiction, after which, a harmonization process is carried out so as to resolve this seeming contradiction and unify the subject matter, if the harmonization process is unsuccessful - a real contradiction has been identified, as a consequence of which - resolution (Tarjih) [i.e. preferring one set of Akhbar, thereby, rejecting the other] due to the presence of a real contradiction becomes necessary. The Sayyid concentrates more of his effort in the harmonization process of the seeming contradiction since he believes that if this process is successful - it will mean that no Khabar has to be rejected (which is an inescapable outcome of the consequent resolution stage), thus he always prefers harmonization over resolution. Some concepts used in the harmonization process include: indicators of Taqiyyah usage, indicators from rules of Arabic itself, indicators from Urf (conventional usage), Khass specifying A’mm, Nasikh overruling Mansukh, Takhsis within a Mutlaq Hukm, presence of Qayd within an overall Hukm, etc. Assuming that the harmonization process is unsuccessful in untying the seeming contradiction, there is no option but to acknowledge it as a real contradiction, and the rules of Tarjih are applied to select the preferred opinion. Below are the descending tiers in making Tarjih: I. Shuhra (popularity) of the prior Fatawa The set of Akhbar whose purport aligns with the Fatawa of the majority (especially of the Qudama) is preferred to the Akhbar that find no support or trace in their Fatawa. The assumption is that since the Qudama had access to more material than us, and that too in its primary form, their Fatawa in these cases have weight, and the Akhbar used by them to arrive at their Fatawa will definitely have more I’tibar than the conflicting set. This is without considering the Asanid of both sets of Akhbar and without comparing the respective conditions of the narrators of the two conflicting set of Akhbar i.e. it may turn out that most Fatawa were based on Dhaif Isnad Akhbar, but according to the Sayyid they are preferred over the conflicting Mu’tabar Isnad Akhbar, which are treated as Shadh. If there are enough Fatawa supporting both sets of Akhbar, and one cannot be held up as being Mashhur in terms of prior Fatawa, the next step is to compare the conflicting Akhbar in terms of their number and quality. II. Contextual superiority of one set of Akhbar over the other There are two ways in which one set of Akhbar can have contextual superiority over the other contradicting sets. First, in terms of a greater number of strands within that set, this numerical advantage points to a greater diffusion which could reflect a greater dependence. The set that is not supported by as many strands is considered a case of Tafarrud. Second, the set of Akhbar whose narrations have a better Matn preservation and are more elaborative in preserving the kernel of the matter (reflect historicity) is preferred to the Akhbar that indicate Idhtirab within their Mutun. If both sets have equivalent supporting strands and a relatively similar Matn quality, only then is last option for Tarjih [i.e. Ilm al-Rijal] used. III. Evaluations of the authors of Rijal books. It is only after the above two steps have not provided a resolution when Ilm al-Rijal is put into use, whereby, the Akhbar that have weaker Asanid in terms of the Rijal within them are rejected. The Sayyid maintains that there are degrees of weakness: 1. Tadhif by Ghulu of one or some of its narrators 2. Tadhif by Irsal [disconnection in the Sanad] 3. Tadhif by Jahalat al-Hal [narration of a Majhul – unknown] 4. Tadhif by Madhhab of the Ruwat. SOURCES: 1. al-Manhaj al-Rijaliy – Sayyid Muhammad Ridha al-Husayni al-Jalali 2. Nihaya al-Taqrir – Sayyid al-Burujerdi 3. al-Badr al-Zahir – Sayyid al-Burujerdi
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