This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals.
“I do not deny that it was through the path of Shar’ that I reached to the centrality of independent reason.” With this statement Ahmad Qabel one of the most loyal students of Hossein Ali Montazeri made a clean break with the traditional jurisprudence and even distanced himself from his mentor.
Reason, despite its position as one of the four sources used by Shii jurisprudents for deciphering the divine rule, has always played a second fiddle particularly to Quran and the Hadith. Moreover, in jurisprudence reason was never treated as an independent agent. Even Montazeri, whose changed views on politics stunned many, never assigned a completely autonomous role to human reason. However, in his later writings, Montazeri, despite his refusal to shun the traditional limit on the role of reason, created a small opening that allowed his younger students to delve much deeper, although none did as fundamentally as Qabel. Mohsen Kadivar’s position on human reason, for example, remained somewhere between those of Montazeri’s and Qabel’s. In this paper I first trace the evolution of reformist jurisprudential view on the nature and role of human reason by analyzing the positions of these three men. I close the paper by addressing some of the possible implications of this evolution for the future of Shii jurisprudence.