This Arabic article on the legal hermeneutics of al‑Shāfiʿī was presented at a regional meeting of the Nahdlatul Ulama in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2013, and then published in a journal edited by my host Dr. Sahiron Syamsuddin (with me in the picture above):
David R. Vishanoff. “Al‑hirminyūṭīqā al‑fiqhiyya ʿinda al‑Imām al‑Shāfiʿī.” International Journal of Pesantren Studies 7 no. 2 (2015 ): 263–281.
Here is a pdf of the article (marked up to indicate a few corrections necessitated by formatting issues).
Here is the English abstract:
Hermeneutics is not a new discipline among Muslim thinkers; it goes back to al‑Shāfiʿī’s founding of the discipline of legal theory (uṣūl al‑fiqh). This article examines the role al‑Shāfiʿī played in the founding of Islamic legal hermeneutics, and then describes his hermeneutic as one of great flexibility for defining hermeneutical intertextual relationships, and great freedom for deriving legal rules from texts. Then it presents the goal of al‑Shāfiʿī’s hermeneutic as the establishment of a perfect correlation between his legal opinions and the Qurʾānic verses and Prophetic traditions that were widely accepted in his time. Then it indicates the most important consequence of al‑Shāfiʿī’s legal hermeneutic: the possibility of imagining a legal system that is at once divine and human, that is entirely based on the texts of divine revelation yet also evolves to suit the needs of human society across time and space.
In February 2016 Rob Gleave of the Islamic Reformulations project and Murteza Bedir of Istanbul University convened a conference on Islamic legal theory (uṣūl al‑fiqh) in the opulent setting of Istanbul University’s ceremonial administration building. It was a real who’s who of historians of uṣūl al‑fiqh. My contribution was:
“The Structure and Composition of al-Shāfiʿī’s Risāla: Three Books, Three Outlines, Three Arguments.” Reformulation and Hermeneutics: Researching the History of Islamic Legal Theory, Istanbul University, February 22, 2016.
The paper introduced and commented upon my “Reader’s Guide to al-Shāfiʿī’s Risāla,” which is available here.
The view from the conference meeting room:
Harith Bin Ramli and Ramon Harvey hosted a warm, lively, and coherent symposium on theologies of revelation at the Cambridge Muslim College. It was a beautiful and memorable day, epitomized by this image of Shahrur and Mohammed:
My presentation was a reflective pause, looking back on my previous work on classical legal hermeneutics, drawing in my recent readings in Indonesian Qur’anic hermeneutics, and pondering some of the intellectual challenges and moral dangers of thinking systematically about revelation:
“Can Qur’anic Interpretation Be both Practically Adequate and Theologically Principled? Some Instructive Historical Examples of the Delicate Connection between Hermeneutical Theories and Doctrines of Divine Speech.” From Revelation to Scripture: A Symposium on Divine Speech and Prophetic Inspiration in Islam, Cambridge Muslim College, Cambridge, England, September 12, 2015.
Here is a pdf of the full paper, which I summarized at the symposium. The new material it contains about the Indonesian thinker Aksin Wijaya was previously discussed at the International Qur’anic Studies Association in 2014, and hopefully will be included in a future publication (perhaps a volume stemming from the Cambridge Muslim College symposium).
Another image from the day–Farrokh and Ramon during one of the many coffee breaks:
At the IAHR meeting in beautiful Erfurt, in a paper session organized by Carool Kersten on “Retraditionalisation, Anti-Foundationalism and Glocalisation in a Post-Islamist Muslim World,” I presented a simple comparison of three Indonesian thinkers whose works I had been reading, and whom I had just had the opportunity to interview in Indonesia:
Hermeneutics and the Traditional Islamic Sciences in Indonesia Today: Rhetoric, Retraditionalisation, or Creative Anti-Foundationalism?” International Association for the History of Religions, Erfurt, Germany, August 24, 2015.
Here is a link to a pdf of the paper as presented. This is an oral presentation version, without documentation. It is not intended for publication, though the figures discussed here will doubtless appear in some future publication.
At IQSA’s 2015 international meeting in Indonesia I presented my vision for a new digital humanities tool, the OU/Exaptive Discourse Map ‘Xap’:
“Genealogies of Qur’anic Hermeneutics: Tracing Trajectories through Online Data.” International Conference “New Trends in Qur’anic Studies,” co-hosted by the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) and the State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga. Yogyakarta, Indonesia, August 6, 2015.
Here are links to the richly illustrated full paper and the slide show presented at the 2015 IQSA meeting in Indonesia.
Congratulations to IQSA for this lively and diverse meeting, which was a major step toward IQSA’s vision of being a truly international scholarly organization.