Level 4: Comparative Legal Theory

Time limit: 365 days
10 credits

£400 Enrol

Full course description

As a registered charity, we charge course fees to cover our running costs. However, we aim to make our education accessible to as many people as possible and are therefore able to offer a 65% fee waiver. To make use of this fee waiver, please use the code AMI65 when purchasing your courses.

Students in need of further financial assistance should contact the education team at to enquire about the possibility of further fee waivers.


This course provides students with a comparative approach to the study of uṣūl al-fiqh by studying al-ʿAllāma al-Ḥillī’s Ghāyat al-wuṣūl wa īḍāḥ al-subul, a commentary on the Mālikī scholar Ibn al-Ḥājib’s Mukhtaṣar muntahā al-suʾl wa al-ʿamal. The course focuses on selected sections from the discussion on ijtihād found in this work which will provide students with an understanding of how this concept is discussed across two legal schools and how the genre of commentary (sharḥ) literature works. 


Lesson Breakdown


Lesson 1      Introduction

Personal legal/juristic reasoning and judgement (al-ijtihād)



Lesson 2      Quranic discussion on ijtihād

                     Possibility of the Prophet performing ijtihād

                     (p. 537-540)


Lesson 3      Possibility of the companions of the Prophet performing ijtihād during his lifetime


Possibility of the companions of the Imams performing ijtihād during their lifetime


Discussion on consensus (al-ijmāʿ) and ijtihād

(p. 540-543)


Lesson 4      Discussion on consensus (al-ijmāʿ) and ijtihād (continued)

                     The theory of fallibility (takhṭiʾa) and factuality (taṣwīb)

(p. 543-547)


Lesson 5 (1) Dealing with conflicting evidences

Does the mujtahid have such an authority to issue an edict on an issue where there is no evidence?


Blind imitation (taqlīd)

(p. 555-574)


Lesson 5 (2) Examining taqlīd from Kifāyat al-uṣūl

Blind imitation (taqlīd) (continued)


There is no taqlīd in rational belief (lā taqlīd fī al-ʿaqlīyāt)

(p. 574-577)


Lesson 6      There is no taqlīd in rational belief (lā taqlīd fī al-ʿaqlīyāt) (continued)



Lesson 7      There is no taqlīd in rational belief (lā taqlīd fī al-ʿaqlīyāt) (continued)


Is the door of ijtihād closed after an absolute jurist (mujtahid muṭlaq) dies?


Is it permissible to follow the less qualified (taqlīd al-mafḍūl)?

(p. 582-590)



Please note that level four courses are only available to those who have completed all courses in levels one, two, and three. This is because the topics covered in level four require the historical and conceptual foundations which are built in the previous levels.


Hours of Study

13 hours


Assessment Method

Written Essay (100%)


Course Instructor

Professor Seyed Mohammad Seyed Ghari Fatemi

Professor Seyed Mohammad Seyed Ghari Fatemi spent thirteen years studying in the Ḥawza ʿIlmiyya of Qom between 1981 and 1994, completing his advanced studies (dars al-khārij) in Arabic literature, legal theory, jurisprudence, philosophy, and Islamic theosophy under prominent scholars such as Ayatollah Ḥusayn ʿAlī Muntaẓarī, Ayatollah Sayyid Muḥammad Rūhānī, and Ayatollah ʿAbd Allāh Javādī Āmulī. Alongside his seminary studies, he also completed an LLB (1984) and LLM (1991) in Public Law at the University of Tehran. He received his PhD from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manchester in 1999.

He has been working with AMI since 1995 and currently lectures on Islamic legal theory. He is a Professor of Comparative Human Rights, Islamic Hermeneutics and Legal theory, and Philosophy in the Faculty of Law at Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran) where he supervises masters and doctoral students researching a range of topics. Seyed Fatemi is also a full member of the Academy of Sciences of Iran and a member of the Department of Biomedical Ethics at the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences. He has previously taught in the Ḥawza ʿIlmiyya of Qom, at Mofid University (Qom), the University of Birmingham, and was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.

He has numerous publications to his name in Persian and English and has organised and presented at dozens of conferences in the fields of law, Islamic studies, and bioethics. He is the author of Human Rights in the Contemporary World (Ḥuqūq-i bashr dar jahān-i muʿāṣir). The first volume of this work (An Introduction to Theoretical Issues: Concepts, Foundations, Scope and Sources) was first published by the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights and Shahid Beheshti University and is now in its eighth edition. The second volume (Analytical Essays on Right and Liberties) is in its fifth edition, and a third volume (Islam and Human Rights) is forthcoming.