Late Ḥanafī Authorities on the Imamate


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This article presents four annotated translations of excerpts on Sharīʿa governance from “late” (post-7th century Hijri) classical Ḥanafi works in rational theology (kalām) and spiritual psychology (taṣawwuf).1 A previous piece was dedicated to earlier authorities in the school.2 Collectively, these excerpts are representative of the Ḥanafi position that the imamate, or caliphate, is a communal obligation of utmost importance. They express the reasoning for this—including an assessment of opposing heterodox views—as well as articulating the roles, benefits, and significance of the imamate.

Most of the scholarly reflection on the imamate, despite it being a matter of positive law (fiqh), is found in theological works. For the Ḥanafīs, this means in works of Māturīdī theology. Our first passage, in turn, is from one such work by Kamāl al-Dīn al-Andakānī (d. 726/1325) in which he presents consensus as the textual proof for the obligation of imamate as well as a rational proof tied to its fulfilment of sociopolitical roles necessary for the Umma.

The next two extracts exemplify the synthesis of the Maturīdī and Ashʿarī theological schools as embodiments of the Sunnī kalām tradition. The first is from Ibn al-Humām’s (d. 861/1457) al-Musāyara. Straddling both schools with his ability to independently verify legal and theological opinions, Ibn al-Humām’s text is provided here with the commentary of his student, Ibn Abī Sharīf al-Maqdisī (d. 906/1500), a Shāfiʿī Ashʿarī scholar. Despite its synthetic approach to theology, this passage is quoted verbatim in arguably the most authoritative late legal text in Ḥanafī Fiqh, the Radd al-Muḥtār of Ibn ʿĀbidīn al-Shāmī (d. 1252/1836).

Along with this Shāfiʿī commentary, in the third passage we have also provided the commentary of the same section of the Musāyara from Qāsim ibn Quṭlūbughā (d. 861/1457), an incredibly close student of Ibn al-Humām who not only studied this book with him but is also considered to be an authoritative scholar in the school by later Ḥanafīs. His extract, albeit largely lifted from Ṣʿad al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī’s (d. 792/1390) Sharḥ al-ʿAqāʾid al-Nasafiyya, stands out due to its succinct responses to various important questions and contentions: why the Imām requires general authority across the Islamic regions (as opposed to multiple authorities in different regions), whether actual political authority suffices, even if not held by the Imām, and how to understand the universal obligation of the caliphate vis-à-vis the notion that it ended thirty years after the Prophet ﷺ.

Found neither in a legal manual nor a theological treatise, the final passage is taken from the Ṭarīqa Muḥammadiyya of the Ottoman spiritual reformer and Ḥanafi scholar, Mehmed Birgivī (d. 981/1573), along with the commentary of ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulsī (d. 1143/1731), a later Ottoman polymathic Sufi master. Exemplifying the grand synthesis of the late Ottoman tradition, Nābulsī quotes extensively from the Jawharat al-Tawḥīd of the famous Mālikī Ashʿarī Ibrahīm al-Laqqānī (d. 1041/1631). Our closing extract, then, is the commentary of a Sufi Akbarian on a Maturīdī Ḥanafī text on spiritual exhortation, using passages from a Mālikī Ashʿarī. This is representative of the fact that when it comes to the fundaments of Sharīʾa governance and the basics of the imamate, scholars across various legal, theological, and spiritual strains stand in broad consensus.


1. Kamāl al-Dīn al-Andakānī3 (d. 726/1325), Ṣidq al-Kalām

قال أهل السنة والجماعة: يُفرَض على الناس أَن  يَختَارُوا في كلِّ عصر للإمامة من يصلح للقيام بتنفيذ الأحكام؛ وتَمْشِيَة الأمور، وسدِّ الثُغُور، وتجهيز الجيوش، وتَدبِير الحروب، وقسمة ما أفاء الله تعالى عليهم من الغنائم بين المُقاتَلَة وأخذ الصدقات وصرْفها إلى مَصارفها، وإقامة الجُمَع والأعياد، وإنكاح الصغار والصغائر إذا لم يكن لهم وليٌّ، وقطع موادّ الشر المتوقّع من المتلصّصَة والمتغلبة والبُعَاة وقُطَّاع الطرق، وإقامة الحدود والقِصَاص وفَصلِ المنازعات التي لو دامت لأَفضَت إلى التَّقَاتُل والتَّفانى، فَمَا أصدقَ قوله تعالى: {وَلَكُمْ فِي ٱلْقِصَاصِ حَيَوٰةٌ يَـٰٓأُو۟لِى ٱلْأَلْبَـٰبِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ‏} [البقرة: 114] لِيكونَ مطاعًا مفترضَ الطَّاعة؛ فيتَمَكَّن مِن القيام بهذه الأمور، إلَّا أنَّ هَذا مِن فروض الكفاية إذا قام به البعض سَقَطَ عن الباقِين.

The people of the Sunna and the Community state: It is obligated upon the people in every age to select for the imamate one who is capable of carrying out its duties, which include: enforcing legal rulings [of the Sharīʿa], managing the collective affairs, protecting the borderlands, planning war efforts, distributing the wealth of Muslims—both war booty to soldiers and alms to those deserving of them—establishing the Friday and ʿĪd congregational prayers, facilitating the marriage of those with no guardian, and preventing the spread of corruption from thieves, gangs, rebels and brigands. He is also expected to establish penal and retaliatory punishments, and to solve disputes that, if left to fester, would lead to violence and devastation. How true are the words of Allah: “There is (security of) life for you in (the law of) retaliation, O people of reason, so that you may become mindful of Allah.”4 The selection and appointment of such an imām [along with his capability to carry out these duties] make him rightfully and obligatorily obeyed on part of the people. However, this obligation of appointing the Imām is a communal obligation of sufficiency that if carried out by some of the community is absolved of the rest.

والدليل على الوجوب المذكور الإجماعُ والمعقول. أما الإجماع فهو أن الصحابة اشتغَلوا عقيبَ وفاةِ رسول الله ﷺ بتعيِيْن الإمام قَبلَ دفنه؛ كما ستَقِفُ على تفَاصِيله في إمامة أبي بكر إن شاء الله تعالى؛ وقدَّموه على سائر الفرائض مِن قتالِ الكُفَّار والكسبِ وغيرِ ذلك، فلو لم يكن ذلك واجبًا عليهم لما اهتمُّوا بتقديمه على سائر الفرائض. وأما المعقول فهو أن قطع المنازعات، ودفع شر السُعاة في الأرض بالفساد، والانتصاف في المظالم والحقوق لا يتأتَّى إلَّا بفَيصَلٍ مُطاعٍ وهو الإمام؛ وفي إهماله ضررٌ ظاهر عام وهو تفاني النُّفوس؛ ودفعُ الضرر عن النفس واجبٌ، فيَجِب عليهم ذلك. ومِمّا ذكرنا ثبت أن نصب الإمام واجب على الخلق سمعًا وعقلاً وهو مذهبنا.

The proof for the aforementioned obligation is consensus and reason. As for the consensus, the Companions immediately preoccupied themselves with selecting the Imām after the passing of the Prophet ﷺ, even before his burial. This will be explained in more detail in the discussion of the Imamate of Abū Bakr, Allah willing. The Companions gave this selection process preference over other important obligations such as military duties, economic obligations and the like. Had it not been an obligation for them, they would not have dedicated themselves to this single obligation above all others. As for the rational proof, it is that the resolution of disputes, tackling crime and corruption, and establishing justice and rights does not occur except through a legitimate authority who is obeyed and has the final decision—this is the Imām. In his absence, there would be apparent and general harm, namely, loss of lives.5 Preventing this type of harm is obligatory. Hence, appointing the Imām is also obligatory. It is thus clear from what we have mentioned that appointing the Imām is obligatory on the people by revelation and reason, and this is our position.6


2. Kamāl Ibn al-Humām7 (d. 861/1457) and al-Maqdisī8 (d. 906/1500), al-Musāmara fī Tawḍīḥ al-Musāyara

الإمامة (استحقاقُ تَصَرُّفٍ عامٍّ على المسلمين)؛ وقوله: على المسلمين متعلِّق بقوله تصرُّفٍ، لا بقوله استحقاق، إذ المستحَقّ عليهم طاعةُ الإمام، لا تصرُّفه؛ ولا بقوله عامٍّ إذ المتعارف أن يقال عامٌّ لكذا، لا عامٌّ على كذا. وقد عرَّف صاحب «المواقف» «وشرحه» الإمامة بأنها «خلافةُ الرسول في إقامة الدين، وحفظ حوزة الملة بحيث يَجب اتّباعُه على كافّة الأمّة». وفي «المقاصد» نحوه، فإنه قال: «هي رياسة عامّة فِي الدين والدنيا خلافةٌ عن النبيg»؛ وبهذا القيد خَرَجَتِ النبوّة، وبقَيد العموم خَرَج مثل القضاء والإمارة في بعض النواحي، ولَمّا كانتِ الرياسة والخلافة عند التحقيق ليستا إلَّا استحقاق التصرّف؛ إذ معنى نصب أهلِ الحل والعقد الإمامَ ليس إلا إثبات هذا الاستحقاق له، عَبَّر المصنف بالاستحقاق. فإنْ قيل التعريف صادق بالنبوَّة لأنّ النبيّ ﷺ يملك هذا التصرّف العامّ؟ قلنا النبوّة في الحقيقة بِعثة بشرع كما علِم من تعريف النبيّ؛ واستحقاق النبيّ هذا التصرّف العامّ إمامة متَرَتَّبَة على النبوّة؛ فهي داخلة في التعريف دونَ ما تُرُتِّبَت عليه؛ أعني النبوّة.

The Imamate is “the right of general authority over the Muslims.”9 ‘Over the Muslims’ here [as a prepositional phrase] is grammatically linked to ‘authority’, not to ‘right’—because the right upon the people (that is, their duty) is to obey the Imām, not to wield authority—nor to ‘general’, because the conventional usage is to say ‘general to such-and-such’ not ‘general over such-and-such’.10

The author of al-Mawāqif and its commentary define the imamate as, ‘Succession of the Prophet ﷺ in the establishment of religion and defending the territories such that obedience (of the Imām) is obligatory on the entire Umma.’11 A similar definition is found in al-Maqāṣid, ‘It is general authority in religious and worldly affairs in succession of the Prophet ﷺ.’12 With this qualification [of succession], prophethood is excluded.13 With the qualification of generality, restricted roles of authority such as the judiciary and governorship are excluded. Political leadership and the caliphate, on scrutiny, are but the established right to govern, since the influential people appointing an imām means naught but their establishing this right for him. Hence, the author defines leadership in terms of the ‘established right’ [to govern].

If it is said that this definition also applies to prophethood because the prophet bears general authority, the reply is that prophethood, in reality, is being sent with a revealed law, as is known from standard definitions of a prophet. The established right of a prophet to general authority is [a form of] leadership consequent to prophethood, so it is included in the definition [of imamate] and not vice-versa.14

(ونصبُ الإمام) بعد انقراض زمن النبوّة (واجبٌ) على الأمّة عندنا مطلقًا (سمعًا لا عقلًا)، أي واجب من جِهَة السمع لا من جهة العقل (خلافاً للمعتزلة) حيث قال بعضهم واجب عقلًا، وبعضهم كالكعبي وأبي الحسين عقلًا وسمعًا. وأما أصل الوجوب فقد خالَفَ فيه الخوارج فقالوا هو جائز ومنهم من فضَّل، فقال فريق من هؤلاء يَجب عند الأمن دونَ الفتنة، وقال فريق بالعكس، أي: يجب عند الفتنة دون الأمن. وأما كون الوجوبِ على الأمّة فخالف فيه الإماميّة والإسماعيليّة فقالوا لا يجب علينا، بل يجب على الله — تعالى عَمّا يقولون علوّاً كبيراً — إلَّا أنّ الإماميةَ أوجَبوه عليه تعالى لحفظ قوانين الشرع عن التغيير بالزيادة والنقصان، والإسماعيلية أوجبوه ليكونَ معرِّفا للّه وصفاته. أما عدم وجوبه عندنا على الله تعالى وعدم وجوبه علينا عقلا فقد استَغنى المصنِّف عن الاستدلال له بِما قدَّمه مع دليله من أنه لا يَجِب عليه تعالى شيءٌ ومِن أنه لا حكمَ للعقل في مثل ذلك. وأما وجوبه علينا سمعًا فلأنه قد تواتر إجماع المسلمين في الصدر الأوّل عليه حتَّى جعلوه أهمَّ الواجبات، وبدأوا به قبلَ دفنِ الرسول ﷺ.

“The appointment of the Imām” after the period of prophethood “is obligatory” upon the Umma in all circumstances according to us, “as a matter of revelation, not reason”, that is, it is obligatory based on revelation, not reason, “contrary to the Muʿtazila”, some of whom held it to be obligatory based on reason while others, like al-Kaʿbī and Abū al-Ḥussain, held that it is obligatory based on both reason and revelation. On the ruling of obligation itself, the Khawārij opposed this, holding that appointing the Imām is merely permissible, while some of them deemed the ruling contingent. Some of these latter held that it is obligatory in times of peace but not in periods of turmoil, while others held the opposite, that is, it is obligatory in times of turmoil, but not when peace prevails.

On the obligation being on the Umma, the Imāmī Shīʿa and Ismāʿilīs opposed this, holding that it is not obligatory upon us, but on Allah—Allah is exalted far beyond what they say. However, [they did so for different reasons:] the Imāmī Shīʿa obligate it upon Allah, the exalted, to secure the preservation of the Sacred Law from change, addition, and subtraction. The Ismāʿilīs obligate it on Allah so that he [the Imām] may be a means of knowing Allah and His attributes.15 As for its not being an obligation upon Allah according to us, and its not being an obligation established by reason alone, the author suffices giving any evidence here for these positions with what he has already shown earlier, with evidence, that nothing is obligated upon Allah and that reason does not adjudicate in the like of this matter.16 As for its being a revelation-based obligation, the reason for this is the mass-transmitted consensus of the early Muslims on this, to the extent that they [the Companions] made it the most important duty, starting with it before the Prophet’s ﷺ burial.17


3. Ibn Quṭlūbughā18 (d. 879/1474), Sharḥ al-Musāyara

(الإمامة استحقاقُ تصـرُّفٍ عـامٍّ على المسلمين ونصْبُ الإمام واجبٌ سمعًا) هذا قول جُـمهور أهل السنّة وأكـثر الـمعتزلة (لا عقــلاً خلافــًا للمعتزلــة) إنـمــا قــال هــذا بعــض المعتزلــة. قــال النَكْســاري هذا قول الـجاحظ وأبي الـحسين البصري والكعبي وأتباعهم. وقــال أكثــر الـخـــوارج وأبـــو بـكــر الأصـــمّ مــن المعتزلــة لا يَجب علـى الله تعالــى ولا علـى الـخلــق. ولأهل الـحقّ ثلاثةُ مطالب: الأوّل وجوب نصب الإمام، والثاني شروطه، والثالث تعيينه. والـمصنّف ذكَر الأوّل بغير دليل، وقد استُدلّ له في «شرح العقائد» بقوله ﷺ: “من مات ولم يَعرف إمامَ زمانِه مات مِيتةً جاهليّةً”. ولأحمد والطبراني: “مـن مـات ولـيـس في عُنقِه بيعةٌ مـات مِـيـتـةً جاهلـيّـةً” خرّجاه من حديث معاوية. ولـمُسلـم في صـحيحه عن ابن عمر سمعت رسولَ الله ﷺ یقول: “مَن خَلَعَ يداً من طاعةِ الله لَقِيَ اللهَ يومَ القيامةِ لا حُجَّةَ له، ومَن مات وليس في عُنقِهِ بَيْعَةٌ مات مِيتةً جاهليّةً”.

ولأنّ الأمّة قد جعلوا أهمَّ الـمهمّات بعد وفاة النّبي ﷺ نصبَ الإمام على ما في الصّحيحين من حديث سَقيفة بني ساعِدة وكذا بعد موت كلّ إمام. ولأنّ كـثيـراً من الواجبات الشّرعية تتوقّف عليه؛ كتنفيذ الأحكام، وإقامة الحدود، وسدّ الـثّـغور، وتـجهيز الـجيوش، وقسمة الـغنائم، وقهر الـمتغلّبة والـمتلصّصة وقُطّاع الطرق، وقطع الـمنازعات الـواقعة بـيـن العـباد، وقبول الشهادات القائمة على الحقوق، وإقامة الـجُمَع والأعيـاد، وتزويـج الـصّـغـار والـصّـغـائر الـذيـن لا أولـيـاء لـهم، ونـحو ذلك من الأمور التـي بـيـن آحاد الأمّة.

“The Imamate is the right of general authority over the Muslims, and the appointment of the Imām is obligatory based on revelation, not reason, contrary to the position of the Muʿtazila.” This is the position of the vast majority of the Sunni theologians along with most of the Muʿtazila. Only a few of the Muʿtazila held the latter position [that it is obligatory based on reason]. Al-Naksārī19 says that this is the position of al-Jāḥiẓ, Abū al-Ḥussain al-Baṣrī, al-Kaʿbī and their followers. Most of the Khawārij and Abū Bakr al-Aṣṣam from the Muʿtazila held that it is not obligatory at all, neither upon Allah ﷻ nor on the people. The people of Truth (ahl al-ḥaqq) have three main objectives [to discuss on the topic of the imamate]: first, the obligation of appointing the Imām; second, the conditions [required for the Imām]; and third, the process of choosing the Imām. The author [Ibn al-Humām] mentions the first of these without evidence. It is evidenced in [Taftāzānī’s] Sharḥ al-ʿAqāʾid by his ﷺ saying: “Whosoever dies without recognising the Imām of his age has died a jāhilī death.” Aḥmad and Ṭabarānī both narrate from Muʿāwiya [the following similar ḥadīth], ‘Whosoever dies without having given allegiance [to the Imām] has died a jāhilī death.’20 Muslim also narrates from Ibn ʿUmar, “I heard the Prophet of Allah ﷺ saying, “Whosoever pulls his hand away from the obedience of Allah, he will meet Allah on the Day of Judgement with no proof for him. And whosoever dies without having given allegiance [to the Imām] has died a jāhilī death.”21

A further proof is that the Umma took the appointment of an Imām as their most important task after the passing of the Messenger of Allah ﷻ as indicated in the ḥadīth of the roofed shelter of Banū Sāʿida related in the two Ṣaḥiḥ collections.22 This [same urgency to appoint a successor] was also the case after the death of every caliph. Another proof is that many of the legal obligations of the Sacred Law depend on the Imām, such as enacting the law, establishing penal punishments, protecting the borders, preparing the armies, distributing the war-booty, subduing the brigands and highway robbers, settling disputes between people, accepting testimony in cases where people’s rights are at stake, establishing the Friday and ʿĪd prayers, marrying young people without guardians, and others such matters pertaining to the [social] relations of individuals in the Umma.

فإنْ قيل لـمَ لا يـجوز أن يكتفى بذي شوكةٍ في كلّ ناحية، ومن أين يـجب نصب من له الريـاسة العامّة، قلنا لأنّه يؤدّي إلـى منازعات ومـخاصمات مُفضية إلـى اختلال أمر الدين والدنيا، كما نشاهد في زماننا. فإنْ قيل فَلْيُكتفِ بذي شوكةٍ له الرّياسة العامّة إماماً كان أو غير إمامٍ، فإنّ انتظام الأمر يـحصل بذلك، كما في عهد الأتراك، قلنا نعـم يـحصل بعض النِّظام في أمر الدنيا، لكنْ يـختلّ أمر الدّين وهو الـمقصود الأهمّ والعُمدة العظمى. فإن قيل فَعلى ما ذكرتـم مِن أنّ مدّة الـخلفاء ثلاثون سنة، يكون الزّمان بعد الـخلفاء الراشدين خاليــاً عن الإمام، فتعصى الأمّة كلّهم وتكون مِيتتهم جاهليةً. قلنا الـمـراد الـخلافة الكاملة، ولـو سُـلّـم فَلعلّ دور الـخلافة ينقضي دون دور الإمامـة، والله تعالـى أعلم.

If it is said: why is it not sufficient to appoint a ruler in every region, or why is it obligatory to appoint one who has the general authority [across all regions]? We say: because that would lead to conflict and animosity, which would lead to corruption of the religious and worldly affairs, as we witness in our own times. If it said: in that case, a powerful leader with full authority should suffice, whether he is the Imām or not; the collective affairs can be managed by such as a person, as in the era of the Turks.23 We say: yes, we saw some stability in the worldly affairs, but the religious affairs were negatively affected, and they are the most important of all ends and the central pillar of all else.24 If it is said: based on what you have mentioned that the period of rule for the [rightly guided] Caliphs was 30 years, the period of rule after them was bereft of the Imām, rendering the whole Umma sinful and their deaths jāhilī. We say: the intent is of the complete caliphate, and if your point is conceded, it could be said that the age of the caliphate finished, but not the age of the imamate.25 Allah ﷻ knows best.26


4. ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulsī27 (d. 1143/1731) commenting on Birgivi28 (d. 981/1573), Al-Ḥadīqa al-Nadiyya Sharḥ al-Ṭarīqa al-Muḥammadiyya29

(والمسلمون لا بُدَّ لهم مِن إمام) أي سلطان يَقمَع هوى أنفسهم بإلزامهم الحقّ قهراً عنهم، (قادر على تنفيذ الأحكام) الشريعة فيهم لِعِلمه بذلك وقوّته عليه بالشجاعة والجنود، (مسلم) إذ لا ولاية لكافر على المسلم، (حُرُّ) لأنّ العبد لا ولايةَ له، (مكلَّف) أي عاقل بالغ (ظاهر) غير مُختفٍ ليُمكِّنَ كلّ أحدٍ مِن الرعيَّة الوصول إليه عند الاحتياج، (قُرَشِيّ) أي من قرَيش وهو اسمٌ لأولاد النضْر بن كِنانة. (ولا يشترط أن يكون هاشمياً) أي منسوباً إلى هاشم وهو أبو عبد المطلب جَدّ رسول الله ﷺ.

“It is necessary for the Muslims to have an Imām,” that is, a ruler who is able to curb their base impulses by holding them to the truth by force [if necessary]; “capable of executing the rulings,” of the Sharīʿa among the people due to his knowledge of it and his ability to do this through courage and material force. He must be “Muslim,” because a disbeliever can have no sovereignty over a Muslim; “free,” because a slave has no agency of his own; “legally responsible,” that is, sane and mature; “apparent,” not hidden [in occultation] so that the people under his guardianship can reach him when they need to; and “Qurayshī,” that is, from the clan of Quraysh, which is a name for the progeny of Naḍr ibn Kināna.30 “There is no requirement that he be Hashimī,” that is, from the progeny of Hāshim, who was the father of ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, the grandfather of the Prophet ﷺ31.


Suggested citation:

Asim Ayub, “Late Ḥanafī Authorities on the Imamate,” Ummatics, Dec 26, 2023, https://ummatics.org/papers/late-ḥanafi-authorities-on-the-imamate.



  1. I want to thank the following for their assistance on various aspects of this paper: Shaykh Dr. Sohail Hanif, Shaykh Shams Tameez, Shaykh Dr. Salman Younas, Mufti Zameelur Rahman, and Shaykh Dr. Zeeshan Chaudhri. I especially want to thank Dr. Uthman Badar for his diligent editorial work on the translations and footnote annotations and for being a helpful mentor.
  2. The use of “early” and “late” here is merely a heuristic device used to organise Ḥanafī authorities across thirteen centuries into two roughly equal periods. Otherwise, the Ḥanafī school has been periodized in various ways. If we take the standard dichotomy of early and late (mutaqaddimūn and mutaʾakhirūn), anyone who does not meet the three founding Imāms (Abū Ḥanīfa, Abū Yūsuf and Muḥammad) is considered late—the third/ninth century serving as a classifying point. All other periodizations appear to agree on a formative period ending around the fourth/tenth century with the advent of the Mukhtaṣarāt literature—the Mukhtaṣār of Qudūrī (d. 428/1037) being the most seminal. More detailed later periodization seems to be relative and found primarily in the attempt to demarcate typologies of jurists within the school—the Ṭabaqāt of ibn Kamāl Pāshā (d. 943/1536) became a prominent battleground in this dispute. See Talal Al-Azem, Rule-Formulation and Binding Precedent in the Madhhab-Law Tradition (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp. 50-88; Sohail Hanif, “A Theory of Early Classical Ḥanafism,” PhD dissertation, University of Oxford, 2017; and Aḥmad al-Naqīb, al-Madhhab al-Ḥanafī, (Riyadh: Maktabat al-Rashīd, 2001), 1:327.
  3. Kamāl al-Dīn al-Andakānī is a relatively unknown Central Asian Maturīdī theologian of the 8th century Hijri. His only extant work is a creedal text entitled Sidq al-Kalām fī ʿIlm al-Kalām [The Truthful Word in the Science of Rational Theology] in which he generally lays out the standard Māturīdī position on theological issues, with some unique opinions and methodologies used.
  4. Qurʾān, al-Baqara: 114.
  5. Part of the reason why discussions of the imamate ended up in books of rational theology (kalām), according to the likes of Abū al-Muʿīn al-Nasafī, is the debate around what the obligation is grounded in. If we hone in on the two schools of theology that are predominantly Ḥanafī in legal practice—the Māturīdis (as a whole), and the Muʾtazila (as a majority)—we find this to be a debated issue that has implications beyond the imamate. The crux of the issue is the Muʾtazilī assertion that good (husn) and evil (qubh) are known by reason, and that their normative moral value is also established by reason (ʿaql). The Māturīdis, as opposed to their more stringent Ashʿarī divine command theorist counterparts, recognise that the moral rulings of some acts can be known by reason, but insist that their normative moral value can only be established by revelation. The Maturīdi position is fairly restrictive on the role of reason, utilising it as a tool or an expositor (kāshif) of empirical moral knowledge, rather than the Muʾtazilī position of reason as an obligator (mūjib) of normative moral values. The upshot of this in the debate of imamate’s obligation is that some of the more rationally inclined Muʿtazila make arguments only from rational necessity, the Ashʿaris from revelation, and the Māturidīs (and most Muʿtazila) from rational combined with textual proofs. There are also some nuances between the Samarqandī and Būkhāran schools of Māturīdī creed. For more on this, see Al-Ālūsī, Nahj al-Salāma, 135-137 and ʿAwwād Sālim, al-Madrassa al-Kalāmiyya al-Maturīdiyya (Cairo: Dār al-Īmām al-Rāzī, 2022), 413-425.
  6. Kamāl al-Dīn al-Andakānī, Ṣidq al-Kalām fī ʿIlm al-Kalām, ed. Ḥāfiẓ ʿĀshūr Ḥāfiẓ (Amman: Maktaba al-Ghānim, 2022), 697-698.
  7. Kamāl al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Humām al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Wāḥid ibn Ḥamīd al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd al-Siwāsī al-Qāhirī al-Ḥanafī was an Egyptian Ḥanafī polymath of Turkic origin. Born in Alexandria, he studied primarily in Cairo and Syria with notable scholars such as Badr al-Dīn al-ʿAynī (d. 855/1453). His students were numerous, including Shams al-Dīn al-Sakhāwī (d. 902/1497) who lists some eighteen Islamic sciences in which Ibn al-Humām had attained mastery. Considered by later Ḥanafīs such as Ibn ʿĀbidīn and al-Lakhnāwī as an authoritative independent scholar (mujtahid) within the Ḥanafī school, he authored a prominent commentary on the Hidāya named Fatḥ al-Qadīr, along with a theological text that pursues the sequence of Imām al-Ghazali’s tract on dogmatic theology, al-Risala al-Qudsiyya; hence, the name al-Musāyara (the Pursuit).
  8. Kamāl al-Dīn Abū al-Maʿālī Muḥammad ibn al-Amīr Nāṣir al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Maqdisī was a Palestinian Shāfīʿī jurist and theologian. His studies began in al-Quds (Jerusalem) and culminated in Egypt where he studied under the likes of Ibn Ḥajar and Zayn al-Dīn al-Zarkashī, both of whom issued him licences in Ḥadīth. He eventually returned to al-Quds where he was appointed to various teaching posts by the Mamluk Sultān and where he later passed away.
  9. That is, the right of general disposal over the Muslims, or the universal (unrestricted) authority—as opposed to the qualified, derivative authority of a wālī or amīr, which is restricted to a particular place or domain—to manage the collective affairs of the Muslims. Reflecting his inclination to, and ability for, independent scholarship, Ibn al-Humām provides an explicit and original definition of the imamate. While not the first Ḥanafī scholar to provide a formal definition—Shams al-Dīn al-Samarqandī (d. 710/1310) in al-Ṣaḥāʾif al-Ilāhiyya (ed. Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sharīf, Kuwait: Maktabat al-Falāḥ, 1985, 473) and Abu al-Barākāt al-Nasafī in al-I’timād fi al-Iqtiṣād (ed. Abdallah Muhammad Ismail, Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Azhariyya li al-Turath, 2012, 475) precede him in this respect—his, unlike theirs, is original with respect to preceding Shāfīʿī definitions. And reflecting his authoritativeness for later scholars, this definition, with minor variations, subsequently becomes standard in the Ḥanafī school. It is quoted by no less than Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563) in al-Bahr al-Rāʾiq (ed. Zakariyyā Umairāt, 9 vols., Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʿIllmiyya, 1997, 6: 462) where he explicitly references Ibn al-Humām as “al-Muhaqqiq”, the verifying scholar; al-Haskafī (d. 1088/1677) in al-Durr al-Mukhtār—and duly elaborated by Ibn ʿĀbidīn in Radd al-Muhtār (ed. ʿAdil Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Mawjūd and ʿAlī Muḥammad Muʿawwaḍ, 14 vols., Riyāḍ: Dār ʿĀlam al-Kutub, 2003, 2: 276-278) where he reproduces verbatim the commentary of al-Maqdisī here—and Ibn ʿĀbidīn in Minhat al-Khāliq (printed with the same edition of al-Bahr al-Rā’iq cited above, 1: 601).
  10. Because the prepositional phrase “ʿalā al-muslimīn” follows three consecutive nouns (istiḥqāq, tasurruf, āmm) any of which it could technically attach to, the commentator is clarifying, as a point of grammar, that it attaches to the second of these, because attaching to the first benefits the wrong meaning and attaching to the third is incorrect usage.
  11. The reference is to Kitāb al-Mawāqif fī ʿIlm al-Kalām by ʿAḍad al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-ʾĪjī (d. 756/1355) and al-Sayyid al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī’s (d. 816/1414) commentary on this, Sharḥ al-Mawāqif.
  12. The reference is to Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī’s (d. 793/1390) al-Maqāṣid fī ʿIlm al-Kalām.
  13. The idea that the Imām serves as a deputy of the Prophet ﷺ is a common acknowledgment across all schools of Islamic thought, an interesting juxtaposition with Christian or secular notions of leadership.
  14. This is a response to the hypothetical contention that the definition of imamate is not exclusive (mānʿi) because it applies to prophets as well since they also have general authority to manage the affairs of people. The commentator concedes that prophethood is a form of imamate but is a special form; thus every prophet is an imām but not every imām is a prophet.
  15. The idea here is that if Allah appoints the Imām he is divinely protected [maʿṣūm] and in turn can definitively secure the preservation of the Sharia and/or be a definitive means to knowing Allah, as is the case with prophets. It is not difficult to see, however, that Allah can secure these ends through human means. For Allah, both means are equally possible and easy.
  16. The reference is to a previous discussion in the same text (al-Musāmara, ed. Ṣāliḥ al-Ghursī, Amman: Dār al-Fatḥ, 2018, 423-443) about whether it is obligatory on Allah ﷻ to do that which is aṣlah (what is best/most beneficial for creation). The Imāmī Shīʿa, along with their Muʾtazilī counterparts, held that Allah ﷻ was obliged to do what was best for the welfare of his creation, debating the ramifications of this with regard to the imamate. The Māturidis amd Ashʿaris hold that Allah ﷻ has no obligations upon Him and does what He wills. This debate is an offshoot of a more foundational discussion in moral epistemology on taḥsīn and taqbiḥ—how does one come to know moral goodness and evil. For more on aṣlaḥ, see ʿAwwād Sālim, al-Madrassa al-Kalāmiyya al-Māturidiyya, 426-430. For more on taḥsīn and taqbiḥ, see note 5 above.
  17. Kamāl al-Dīn al-Maqdisī, al-Musāmara, ed. Ṣāliḥ al-Ghursī (Amman: Dār al-Fatḥ, 2018), 597-599.
  18. Zayn al-Dīn Abū al-ʿAdl Qāsim ibn Quṭlūbughā ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Miṣrī, famously known as ʿAllāma Qāsim al-Ḥanafī al-Sūdūnī, was an Egyptian Ḥanafī jurist and ḥadīth master of Circassian descent. Growing up an orphan, he was taken under the wing of the Chief Judge of Baghdād, al-ʿIzz ibn Jamāʿa from whom he took many ijāzāt. He also studied under the likes of Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī in Cairo who praised him as “the authority, the learned, the Ḥadīth scholar, the jurist, and the prolific memorizer.” However, his most famous teacher was Ibn al-Humām, under whom he studied every book taught in his circle, gaining such a closeness that when Ibn al-Humām was asked who would take his seat after him, he responded, “Allāma Qāsim ibn Quṭlūbughā.” Despite his prolific writing, he did not manage to procure many students, due to his brittle nature—the most famous of those we know is the famous ḥadīth master Shams al-Dīn al-Sakhāwī.
  19. Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥasan al-Naksārī al-Rūmī (d. 910/1505) was a well-known Ottoman scholar who studied with the son of the great Mulla Fenārī and taught at the Ismāʿīl Medresse in Qustumonū. He wrote on many sciences, but his expertise was tafsīr, which he taught as a regular public lesson in the Aya Sofia, completing the Qurʾān just before his passing. He has a commentary on the ʿUmdat al-ʿAqāʾid of Abū al-Barakāt al-Nasafī in Māturīdī creed, which is quoted by both Quṭlūbughā and Maqdisī in their commentaries on the Musāyara, despite the fact he was their contemporary. For the quote from Naksārī, see Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Naksārī, Sharḥ ʿUmdat ʿAqāʾid Ahl Al-Sunna wa al-Jamāʿa, ed. Akram Ismāʿīl (Amman: Maktabat al-Ghānim, 2022), 333.
  20. This narration is found with slightly different wordings in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 1851; Musnad Aḥmad, 16876; Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān, 4573; Mustadrak al-Ḥākim, 259; Musnad Abū Yaʿlā, 7375; and Ṭabarānī (al-Awsaṭ), 769, 910. A “jāhilī death”, as Ibn Hajar explains, is to die in a state of disobedience (not disbelief) that resembles the death of the people of the Pre-Islamic period (Jāhiliyya) in a state of being astray and without an imām who is obeyed (Fatḥ al-Bārī, ed. Muhibb al-Dīn al-Khatīb, 13 vols., Beirut: Dar al-Maʿrifa, 1379, 13:7).
  21. From this point onwards, the entirety of the extract is lifted by Ibn Quṭlūbughā almost verbatim from Taftāzānī’s discussion on the obligation of the caliphate in his Sharḥ al-ʿAqāʾid al-Nasafiyya (Karachi: Maktabat al-Bushra, 2011, 355-356).
  22. The Saqīfa Banī Sāʿida is a roofed shelter or pergola attached to the properties of Banū Sāʿida, a Khazrajī clan, in which the people of Madina would gather. It is the place in which the Companions رض gathered after the death of the Prophet ﷺ to elect and appoint his successor. The fullest account of this event in Bukhārī is the ḥadīth of Ibn ʿAbbas رض (6830) which relates a khutba of ʿUmar ibn al-Khattab رض wherein he speaks of the event in detail after mention of other matters. The same ḥadīth is reported by Muslim (1691) but restricted to one of these other matters. The Saqīfa event is not mentioned here or elsewhere in Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim.
  23. As noted above, this paragraph is taken from Taftāzāni, for whom, writing in the late eighth century Hijri, “the Turks” could be a reference to Tamerlane and the early Mamluks, as Ovamir Anjum suggests (“Who Wants the Caliphate?,” Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, Oct 19, 2019, 27-28), or it could be referring to the inability of any Turkic empire at that time to have full control of all the lands of Islam, as suggested by al-Bājūrī (Ḥāshiyat al-Bājūrī ʿalā Sharh al-ʿAqāʾid al-Nasafiyya, ed. Anas al-Sharfāwī and Ḥussām Ṣāliḥ, Damascus: Dār al-Taqwā, 2020, 736). Another reading takes these words to be repeated here by Ibn Quṭlūbughā, writing in the mid-ninth century, due to their truth in this period. In that case, Ibn Quṭlūbughā is likely referencing the Mamluk Sultanate, a Sunni Turkic empire based primarily in Egypt and Syria, under whose rule he lived his entire life. Even though there was technically an Abbasid Caliph present in Cairo from 1261-1517 AH, this was mostly a ceremonial position without real power, which instead rested with the Mamluk Sultan of the time. Ibn Quṭlūbughā’s point about the absence of a viable Caliphate leading to religious regression may be influenced by the fact that many of the Cairo-based Caliphs supported religious endowments, religious festivals, and, at times, became highly qualified scholars of Islam. However, the absence of any real power and authority meant their attempts would always be limited, though they were highly popular with the ʿulamāʾ class. For an overview of the Abbasid Caliphate in the lifetime of Ibn Quṭlūbughā, see Mustafa Banister, The Abbasid Caliphate of Cairo, 1261-1517: Out of the Shadows (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021), 141-192. For attempts to build a coherent Sunnī political theory in the absence of a powerful Caliph, see Mohamad El-Merheb, Political Thought in the Mamluk period: The Unnecessary Caliphate (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022).
  24. “The upshot is that the Imām does not refer to someone with political power (sulṭān) alone. Political power organises worldly affairs, while the Imām organises both worldly and otherworldly affairs (al-maʿāsh wa al-maʿād). Indeed, the otherworldly affairs are the most important reason for his appointment because he is a representative of the Prophet ﷺ in the propagation of the sacred law, the elevation of the word of Allah, and the maintenance of the community (milla).” Muḥammad Ḥasan al-Sunbhulī, Naẓm al-Farāʾid ʿalā Sharḥ al-ʿAqāʾid (Karachi: Maktabat al-Bushrā, 2021), 518.
  25. Some aḥadīth mention that the caliphate will last for only thirty years and be followed by “biting rule/kingdom” (mulk ʿāḍ/ʿaḍūḍ)—for example, Aḥmad, 18406, 21919; Tirmidhī, 2226. Others indicate that it will last much longer, enumerating “twelve caliphs” (Bukhārī, 7222; Muslim, 1821) or describing the caliphs to come after the Prophet ﷺ as “many” (Bukhārī, 3455; Muslim, 1842). The standard reconciliation of this apparent conflict is to distinguish between a complete or ideal (kāmil) caliphate and a deficient caliphate, where completeness is measured in terms of following the prophetic path in ruling (minhāj al-nubuwwa). The former lasts thirty years and is followed by the latter. This answer is proffered by Taftāzānī earlier as well as here, but he also mentions here another potential response. This response relies on a distinction between caliphate and imamate—unlike the former view on which the two are synonymous—whereby imamate is rule over the Muslims, on the prophetic model or otherwise, while the caliphate is rule over the Muslims on the prophetic model. Taftāzāni finds this second reading weaker, however, because this distinction is not found among the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna.
  26. Qāsim ibn Qutlūbughā, Sharḥ al-Musāyara, ed. Akram Ismāʿīl (Amman: Maktaba al-Ghānim, 2022), 342-345.
  27. ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulsī (or al-Nābulusī) was an Ottoman polymath who descended from a line of prominent Ḥanafī and Shāfiʿī scholars, including Badr al-Dīn ibn Jamāʿa, the Shāfiʿī Chief Judge of the Mamluk Sultanate. His father having switched to the Ḥanafī school, ʿAbd al-Ghanī continued along the same path, learning a variety of other Islamic sciences along with his mastery of fiqh. However, his most famous writings concern tasawwuf and particularly the school of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 637/1240), the great Andalusian mystic. He authored over 200 works in various Islamic disciplines. Though he taught primarily in Damascus, he travelled the breadth of the Ottoman lands, passing away at the age of 90 and being buried near the grave of Ibn ʿArabī in Damascus.
  28. Zayn al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Pīr ʿAlī Taqī al-Dīn al-Rūmī al-Birgivī was an Ottoman Ḥanafī jurist and theologian. Starting off as a teacher in Ottoman madāris, he took a spiritual turn, spending time in isolation with the ṣūfī Shaykh, ʿAbd Allāh al-Bayrāmī, before returning to teaching. Social-spiritual exhortation (waʿẓ) was an important part of his activism, attracting the ire of many jurists who saw some of his critiques as an attack on their vocation, especially his writings on the Cash Waqf, which were responded to by arguably the greatest Ottoman Shaykh al-Islam, Ebū Suʿūd Effendi. He gained some recognition in his life, but really came to the fore with the rise of the Kadızadele movement in the 17th century, a Ṣūfī reform movement that managed to get the ear of Sultan Mehmet IV and was heavily influenced by the writings of Birgivī.
  29. Al-Nābulsī, an ardent Ashʿarī, comments in this work on Birgivī’s Mātūrīdī text. Despite some epistles he wrote in defence of the Ashʿarī creed from attacks by various Maturīdī quarters, al-Nābulsī generally considered both schools to be holders of the same theology and blamed any divergence on factors like anti-Arab prejudice. Staying on the theme of synthesis, a recent study has shown that Ashʿarīs were generally more accommodating towards their Mātūrīdī peers in the late Ottoman context, which is why Nābulsī could comfortably not just praise Birgivī, but also assert their similarity in creed. See Haidar, Yahya Raad, The Debates between Ash’arism and Māturīdism in Ottoman Religious Scholarship: A Historical and Bibliographical Study, PhD thesis (Australian National University, 2016).
  30. In the paragraphs following this one, Nābulsī cites Laqqāni for several other conditions for the Imām: He must be upright (ʿadl), male, courageous, an independent jurist (mujtahid), and skilled statesman (dhā raʾy fī tadbīr al-umūr). These last three, he notes however, have not been deemed a requirement by some scholars to the extent that the Imām can seek assistance for others with the relevant skills or expertise. See Ibrāhīm al-Laqqānī, Hidāyat al-Murīd li Jawharat al-Tawhīd ed. Marwān Hussein al-Bajāwī, 2 vols. (Cairo: Dār al-Baṣāʾir, 2009), 2: 1283-1284. More generally in terms of the conditions required for the Imām, it is worth noting that there is significant difference of opinion among the scholars. For example, there are reports from Abū Ḥanīfa himself, along with writings from other prominent scholars that being Qurayshī is not a necessity, though it may be preferred. An interesting framework, presented by the contemporary scholar, Ṣalāh Abu al-Ḥājj, sees certain conditions, such as being Qurayshī, as historically necessary, but not universal. As long as it was needed for political stability, it was mandated. With the rise of non-Arab Islamic powers like the Ottomans, it was abandoned. Other conditions are non-negotiable, like Islam. For Abū al-Ḥājj, Ḥanafī political theory revolves around three major principles: avoiding discord, public welfare, and context-specific pragmatism. See Taqī Usmānī, Islam and Politics (London: Turath Publishing, 2018), 60-66; and Ṣalāḥ Abū al-Ḥājj, al-Siyāsat al-Rāshida fī al-Dawlat al-Mājida, 106-129
  31. ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulsī, al-Ḥadīqa al-Nadiyya Sharḥ al-Ṭarīqa al-Muḥammadiyya, ed. Maḥmūd Naṣṣār, 5 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya), 2: 58-60.

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