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The school of Shiʿite jurisprudence.

Origins of the Akhbari can be traced to the twelfth century. It firmly rejected ijtihad, or the power of ulama to interpret the Qurʾan and the teachings of the Prophet of Islam. Rather, it emphasized the supremacy of the teachings of God, the Prophet, and the infallible imams of Twelver Shiʿism, arguing that Islamic law can be derived directly from the akhbar, or traditions of the imams and the Prophet.

Akhbari traditionalism reemerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Safavi Iran. Undermining the position of an independent clergy, the Akhbari school, at least by extension, advocated a fusion between government and religion by rejecting all forms of intercession between believers and the Prophet, plus his twelve infallible progeny. From the ascendancy of the Safavis to the nineteenth century, most Akhbari clerics resided in the shrine cities of Iraq. In Iran, the Akhbaris were eventually defeated by the rival Usuli camp, which favored a hegemonic clerical hierarchy. In Bahrain, however, Akhbarism triumphed by the end of the eighteenth century. During the Iranian constitutional revolution from 1905 to 1911, elements of Akhbari teachings were drawn upon by pro-constitutionalist ulama in refuting challenges by more conservative clergymen who objected to the un-Islamic nature of constitutionalism.

see also usuli.


Cole, Juan. Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shiʿite Islam. London: Tauris, 2002.

Gleave, Robert, and Kermeli, Eugenia. Islamic Law: Theory and Practice. London and New York: Tauris, 2001.

Hairi, Abdul Hadi. Shiʿism and Constitutionalism in Iran: A Study of the Role Played by the Persian Residents of Iraq in Iranian politics. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1977.

Mazzaoui, Michel, ed. Safavid Iran and Her Neighbors. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2003.

Neguin Yavari