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The Fuqaha

To understand any system thoroughly, it is imperative to get acquainted with its scholars, particularly those who have made significant contribution to its development. And in the course of that study, one comes across their important works which over a period have become the sources of reference.

Ilmul Fiqh was meticulously recorded to form a valuable literature during the last eleven centuries, which still exists, and has been constantly studied in the Islamic seminaries. Eminent scholars were able to train numerous students who in turn trained their students in this branch of Islamic knowledge. This tutorpupil chain has remained unbroken till today.

No doubt, other sciences like Philosophy, Logic, Mathematics and Medicine are much older and volumes written on those topics date much earlier. Yet they cannot be compared to FIQH which has been a growing science with a continuous line of tutorpupil relationship. Of course, we make this assertion keeping the Islamic colleges in view. It has been a fortunate practice of Muslim scholars that they always identified great scholars according to the generation to which they belonged. This was first done in respect of Ulama of Hadith, to be followed later for the Ulama of other branches of Islamic learnings. Special books were written to categorise the generations, like TABAQATUL FUQAHA by Abu Ishaq Shirazi, TABAQATUL ATIBBA by Ibn Abi Usayaba, TABAQATUL NNAHWIYYIN and TABAQATUL SSUFIYYA by Abu Abd alrahman Silmi.

However, as far as the generation of FUQAHA is concerned, the works which exist are those written by Sunni scholars. We do not know of any Shia work on the subject, with the result that we have to rely on various biographical sketches and other books of IJAZAT wherein tutors have certified the abilities of their pupils and allowed them to transmit the Traditions further to their students.

In the following paragraphs, we wish to acquaint ourselves with some of the most outstanding FUQAHA of Shia sect, together with their notable contributions. In so doing, we hope to identify them in accordance with the generations to which each belonged.

Adapted from the book: "Fiqh and Fuqaha"

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