The author relates how, during the period of instability of the mid-tenth century CE in Central Asia, the ‘ulama’ (scholars in religious science) of the Hanafi madhhab (juridical school) established themselves as the only interpreters and guarantors of the fiqh (clerical law) jurisprudence in the great centres of Islamic scholarship, Bukhara and Samarqand.  The main characteristic of their teaching and action was to be in harmony with popular wishes, as they themselves were the representatives of urban common people.  The establishment of Mongolian rule in the thirteenth century quite changed the situation.  The public influence and role of Hanafi ‘ulama’ fell into decay and the fiqh, from a lively discipline, was transformed into an ossified scholasticism.  The new intellectual and social trend now followed the Sufi doctrine, held by charismatic shaykhs influent among the nomads.  In an appendix some early fatwas (consultations given by authoritative scholars of fiqh) illustrate the thought of Hanafi ‘ulama’, particularly on the use of Persian language in Qur’anic commentaries.  See too, by the same author, “Le rôle et la place des juristes hanafites dans la vie urbaine de Boukhara et de Samarcande entre le xie et le début du xiiie siècles [sic !],” Cahiers d’Asie Centrale 9 (2001): 131-40.  (Happily, the author gives the Arabic words of his text in Arabic script—as we use to do in the present journal—, thus enabling the reader to correct his transcription of those words that lack the sign of length of the vowels.)

Françoise Aubin, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.3.D-483