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Bihbahānī, Vahid

Bihbahānī, Vahid ( Aqa Muḥammad Baqir ibn Muḥammad Akmal, 1706–92 (AH 1118–1207)). Shiʿite scholar and definer of the Uṣūlī system of jurisprudence. In contrast to the traditionalist Akhbārīs (who required precedent for all decisions), he recognized the legitimacy of ijtihād and of the work of the mujtāhidūn, who apply principles to current issues and arrive at novel and unprecedented decisions. Aggressive in the extreme, he declared the Akhbārīs to be kāfirs (expelling them to a marginal existence in such places as S. Iraq), and he employed a religious police (mirghadabs, ‘executors of wrath’) to enforce his views— a kind of precursor of the Revolutionary Guards. He also greatly strengthened the authority of the ʿulamā, allowing the Mullas to follow his example and to declare themselves Mujtāhids and representatives of the Hidden Imām on earth. This theory of ijtihād, which led to the authoritarian development of Shiʿite Islam, is set forth in Risalat al-ijtihad wa'l-akhbar.

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