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Text and Interpretation

Text and Interpretation

Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq and His Legacy in Islamic Law

Hossein Modarressi

ISBN 9780674271890

Publication date: 08/09/2022

Text and Interpretation: Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq and His Legacy in Islamic Law examines the main characteristics of the legal thought of Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq, a preeminent religious scholar jurist of Medina in the first half of the second century of the Muslim calendar (mid-eighth century CE). Numerous works in different languages have appeared over the past half century to introduce this school of Islamic law and its history, legal theory, and substance in contexts of Shīʿī law.

While previous literature has focused on the current status of the school in its developed and expanded form, this book presents an intellectual history of how the school began. The Jaʿfarī school emerged within the general legal discourse of late-Umayyad and early- Abbasid periods, but was known to differ in certain approaches from the other main legal schools of this time. Namely, the Jaʿfarī school expanded the tools for legal interpretation generally and contracts specifically, to a degree unmatched by any of its counterparts in the Muslim legal tradition. In addition to sketching the origins of the school, the book examines Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq’s interpretive approach through detailing his position on a number of specific questions, as well as the legal canons, presumptions, and other interpretive tools he adopted.


  • Scholars of Islamic legal studies can only be grateful for the continued presence and energy of [Modarressi]…In a nonornate style, Modarressi provides an account of the life and views of the eponym of one of Islam’s longest traditions of legal reasoning, and of how his example served as a basis for a school of law that can claim 200 million followers today—in Islam’s fifteenth century.

    —Ahmad Atif Ahmad, Journal of the American Oriental Society


  • Hossein Modarressi is Bayard Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.

Book Details

  • 456 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Program in Islamic Law