Shi`i Imam Ja`far As-Sadiq (d.765)
The Jafari School of Shari'a is the law system of the Twelver Shi'i Islam. Jafari is also used as another name for the Twelver Shi'is, reflecting the integration between law and theology in the creed. In many texts and books, Jafari and Twelver Shi'ism is not distinguished, but presented as one orientation.
The fiqh of Jafari is somewhat different from that of Sunni schools, in which it does not employ qiyas, but uses the intellect, caql. Another difference is of course, that it doesn't use the same hadiths. Many Sunni hadiths are excluded due to being attributed to enemies of Shi'ism, like what is the case with Aisha's hadiths. Also they have a rich collection of their own unique hadiths, related to the imams, which by Shi'i definition could not commit sin or err.
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The principles of legal reasoning (the roots of fiqh) grew into an important arena of scholarship as they dealt with the place of Hadith and the legitimacy of such traditions, as well as the limits and method of ijtihad. Shi`i Muslim groups developed their own system of law and moral precepts, which came to be called the Ja`fari school of law, so named after its foremost exponent, the sixth Shi`i Imam Ja`far As-Sadiq (d.765) who was the greatest teacher of his time in Medina. Both Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik were among those, said to number four thousand, who benefited from his teachings. Ja`fari fiqh regarded consensus as valid only if the opinion of the Imam was included. The line of development in Shi`i jurisprudence was more direct because of the belief that the Imams were infallible. The Imams simply reflected and therefore reproduced the original prophetic teaching in different circumstances over a period of time. As a result of this advantage, they did not need to resort to analogy (which indeed later became unacceptable in Shi`i theology) nor was much importance attached to consensus. They considered `Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt (the household of the Prophet) to be the best interpreters of the Qur`an and prophetic teachings. Thus the Shi`i school is based entirely on traditions and teachings from the twelve Imams, each of whom was appointed by his predecessor, starting from `Ali Ibn Abi Talib and therefore the Prophet himself. The last Imam entered occultation, and his return is awaited as the savior.
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
THE ELEMENTS OF ISLAM, Chapter 4
Unfortunately, we are not aware of any actual scholarly texts on this subject which have yet been translated into English. We know that a number of Arabic scholars have written wonderful texts in Arabic, and look for the day when we will be able to add higher quality texts to this presentation.
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