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In Rule-Formulation and Binding Precedent in the Madhhab-Law Tradition, Talal Al-Azem argues for the existence of a madhhab-law tradition’ of jurisprudence underpinning the four post-classical Sunni schools of law. This tradition celebrated polyvalence by preserving the multiplicity of conflicting opinions within each school, while simultaneously providing a process of rule formulation (tarjīḥ) by which one opinion is chosen as the binding precedent (taqlīd). The predominant forum of both activities, he shows, was the legal commentary.
Through a careful reading of Ibn Quṭlūbughā's (d. 879/1474) al-Taṣḥīḥ wa-al-tarjīḥ, Al-Azem presents a new periodisation of the Ḥanafī madhhab, analyses the theory of rule formulation, and demonstrates how this madhhab-law tradition facilitated both continuity and legal change while serving as the basis of a pluralistic Mamluk judicial system.