Ja'fari school

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The Jaʿfarī school,[a] also known as the Jafarite school, Jaʿfarī fiqh (Arabic: الفقه الجعفري) or Ja'fari jurisprudence, is a prominent school of jurisprudence (fiqh) within Twelver and Ismaili (including Nizari)[1] Shia Islam, named after the sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.[2] In Iran, Jaʽfari jurisprudence is enshrined in the constitution, shaping various aspects of governance, legislation, and judiciary in the country.[3]

It differs from the predominant madhhabs of Sunni jurisprudence in its reliance on ijtihad, as well as on matters of inheritance, religious taxes, commerce, personal status, and the allowing of temporary marriage or mutʿa.[4] Since 1959, Jaʿfari jurisprudence has been afforded the status of "fifth school" along with the four Sunni schools by Azhar University.[5] In addition, it is one of the eight recognized madhhabs listed in the Amman Message of 2004 by the Jordanian monarch, and since endorsed by Sadiq al-Mahdi, former Prime Minister of Sudan.[6]

The Ja'fari school was imposed as the state jurisprudence in Iran during the Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia Islam from the 16th to the 18th century. Followers of the Ja'fari school are predominantly found in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain where they form a majority, with large minorities in eastern Saudi Arabia, southern Lebanon and Afghanistan.[7]


Ja'fari among other Shia branches (in green)


This school of thought utilizes ijtihad by adopting reasoned argumentation in finding the laws of Islam. Usulis emphasize the role of Mujtahid who was capable of independently interpreting the sacred sources as an intermediary of the Hidden Imam and thus serves the community as a guide. This meant that legal interpretations were kept flexible to take account of changing conditions and the dynamics of the times.[8] This school of thought is predominant among most Shia.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini emphasized that Ja'fari jurisprudence is configured based on the recognition that epistemology is influenced by subjectivity. Accordingly, Ja'fari jurisprudence asserts Conventional Fiqh (objective) and Dynamic Fiqh (subjective). Through Dynamic Fiqh, discussed in the famous text by Javaher-al-Kalem (Arabic: جواهر الكلم), one must consider the concept of time, era, and age (Arabic: زمان) as well as the concept of place, location and venue (Arabic: مکان) since these dimensions of thought and reality affect the process of interpreting, understanding and extracting meaning from the commandments.[9]


This school of thought takes a restrictive approach to ijtihad. This school has almost died out now; very few followers are left. Some neo-Akhbaris have emerged in the Indian subcontinent, but they do not belong to the old Akhbari movement of Bahrain.[8]



Many contemporary Twelvers are described as rejecting predestination.[10][11][12][13] This belief is further emphasized by the Shia concept of Bada', which states that God has not set a definite course for human history. Instead, God may alter the course of human history as is seen to be fit (Although some academics insist that Bada' is not rejection of predestination.[14]).

Nikah Mut'ah[edit]

Nikah mut'ah (Arabic: نكاح المتعة)," is a type of marriage used in Twelver Shia Islam, where the duration of the marriage and the dower must be specified and agreed upon in advance.[15][16]: 242 [17]: 47–53  It is a private contract made in a verbal or written format. A declaration of the intent to marry and an acceptance of the terms are required (as they are in nikah). Zaidi Shias, Ismaili Shias, and Sunni Muslims do not practice nikah mut'ah.


In Shia Islam, taqiyah (تقیة taqiyyah/taqīyah) is a form of religious veil,[18] or a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts, specially while they are in fear or at risk of significant persecution.[19] One source for this understanding comes from al-Kafi.[20]

This practice was emphasized in Shi'a Islam whereby adherents may conceal their religion when they are under threat, persecution, or compulsion.[21] Taqiyya was developed to protect Shi'as who were usually in minority and under pressure, and Shia Muslims as the persecuted minority have taken recourse to dissimulation from the time of the mihna (persecution) under Al-Ma'mun in the 9th century, while the politically dominant Sunnites rarely found it necessary to resort to dissimulation.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In Arabic script: جعفري, strict transcriptions: Jaʻfarī or Ǧaʿfarī, /d͡ʒaʕfariː/; from the name: جعفر, Jaʻfar/Ǧaʿfar, /d͡ʒaʕfar/


  1. ^ "Letter from H. H. the Aga Khan". Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  2. ^ John Corrigan, Frederick Denny, Martin S Jaffee, Carlos Eire (2011). Jews, Christians, Muslims: A Comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions. Cambridge University Press. 978-0205026340.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Book: Islamic Law: According to Ja'fari School of Jurisprudence Vol. 2". 8 April 2017.
  4. ^ Nasr, Vali (2006), The Shia Revival, Norton, p. 69
  5. ^ Jafari: Shii Legal Thought and Jurisprudence
  6. ^ Hassan Ahmed Ibrahim, "An Overview of al-Sadiq al-Madhi's Islamic Discourse." Taken from The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought, p. 172. Ed. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi'. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008. ISBN 9781405178488
  7. ^ Islam. p. 228.
  8. ^ a b The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics, 2003:487.
  9. ^ صحيفه نور
  10. ^ Rizvi, Sayyid Sa'id AkhtarNeed of Religion p. 14.
  11. ^ Florian Pohl, Florian. Islamic Beliefs, Practices, and Cultures, by Marshall Cavendish Corporation, p. 137.
  12. ^ Greer, Charles Douglas. Religions of Man p. 239.
  13. ^ , Rizvi, S. H. M.; Roy, Shibani; Dutta B. B. Muslims p. 20.
  14. ^ Abbaszadeh, Abbas. "The Sources and Theoretical Foundations of Beda and Its Accordance with Divine Knowledge and Predestination in Shiism." (2018): 139-156.
  15. ^ Berg H. Method and theory in the study of Islamic origins, p 165 Brill 2003 ISBN 9004126023, 9789004126022. Accessed at Google Books 15 March 2014.
  16. ^ Hughes T. A Dictionary of Islam p 424 Asian Educational Services 1 December 1995. Accessed 15 April 2014.
  17. ^ Pohl, Florian. "Muslim world: modern muslim societies."p 50 Marshall Cavendish, 2010. ISBN 0761479279, 1780761479277 Accessed at Google Books 15 March 2014.
  18. ^ Momen, Moojan (1985). An Introduction to Shi'i Islam. Yale University Press. pp. 39, 183. ISBN 978-0-300-03531-5.
  19. ^ Stewart, Devin. "Islam in Spain after the Reconquista". Teaching Materials. The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  20. ^ al-Kafi Volume 2. New York: The Islamic Seminary, Inc. January 2015. p. Chapter 93. ISBN 978-0-9914308-8-8.
  21. ^ "Taqiyah". Oxford Dictionary of Islam. John L. Esposito, Ed. Oxford University Press. 2003. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  22. ^ Virani, Shafique N. (2009). The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, a Search for Salvation. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 47f. ISBN 978-0-19-531173-0.


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