This introductory chapter argues that the awakening of Islamic thought requires reconciliation with its spiritual dimension on the one hand, and renewed commitment and rational and critical reading (ijtihâd) of the scriptural sources in the fields of law and jurisprudence (fiqh) and on the other. It discusses the primary purpose of this book, which is to revisit not only the tools and concrete, historical implementations of fiqh, but also their sources, their categorization, and at the same time their methods, the range of their authority and the nature of the approaches that have been put forward throughout the history of this science (usûl al-fiqh). The book presents three fundamental propositions: the contemporary Muslim world (both East and West) must reconsider the terms and modalities of the reform process (islâh, tajdîd); the contents geography of the sources of usûl al-fiqh must be reconsidered; and the center of gravity of authority in the Islamic Universe of reference must be shifted by ranking more clearly the respective competences and roles of scholars in the different fields.
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