This thesis examines the role of tradition and discursive knowledge transmission on the formation of the ‘ulamā’

This thesis examines the role of tradition and discursive knowledge transmission on the formation of the ‘ulamā’, the learned scholarly class in Islam, and their approach to the articulation of the Islamic disciplines. The basis of this examination is the twelfth/eighteenth century scholar, Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Dardīr, an Egyptian Azharī who wrote highly influential treatises in the disciplines of creedal theology, Mālikī jurisprudence, and taṣawwuf (Sufism). Additionally, he occupied a prominent role in the urban life of Cairo, accredited with several incidents of intercession with the rulers on behalf of the Cairo populace. This thesis argues that a useful framework for evaluating the intellectual contributions of post-classical scholars such as al-Dardīr involves the concept of an Islamic discursive tradition, where al-Dardīr’s specific contributions were aimed towards preserving, upholding, and maintaining the Islamic tradition, including the intellectual “sub-traditions” that came to define it. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to al-Dardīr, the social and intellectual climate of his era, and an overview of his writings. Chapter 2 analyses the educational paradigm that preceded al-Dardīr, and affected his approach to the Islamic disciplines. We then focus our attention to al-Dardīr’s contribution to the Islamic educational paradigm, in the form of taḥqīq (verification). Chapter 3 analyses al-Dardīr’s methodology in the synthesis of the rational and mystical approaches to knowledge located within the Islamic disciplines of creedal theology and Sufism. Chapter 4 analyses al-Dardīr’s to the Mālikī fiqh tradition, specifically his methodology of tarjīḥ (weighing of juristic evidence between different narrations). Chapter 5 examines his societal roles, and the influence of tradition on his relationships with the ruling elite, the ‘ulamā’ class, and the masses. The thesis ends with a conclusion that summarises the results of all of the above.

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