The Economics of Religious Interpretation: The System of Taqlid

Ayman Reda

Abstract


The role of religion cannot be sustained without some degree of scriptural exegesis or interpretation over time. In Islamic Shi’a tradition, the process of interpreting scripture in order to deduce Islamic law is called ijtihad. This process is performed by a select few of highly specialized jurists, called mujtahids. Every believer who is incapable of engaging in ijtihad, is required to choose among the group of available mujtahids, and follow the jurist’s interpretation and judgment in all matters of law. This ‘emulation of another in matters of law’ is called taqlid. In return, believers are obligated to pay a religious tax to the jurist, where the proceeds are primarily used for the development of religious institutions and the funding of social services. In a rational choice framework, we analyze the interpretation of religious scripture as a public good problem. The Shi‘a System of taqlid alleviates the public good problem by compensating the few who practice ijtihad on behalf of the unwilling majority. Taqlid also serves to preserve the religious identity and political independence of the Shi’a community. We also examine possible rent-seeking practices by mujtahids, and the impact of religious competition among mujtahids on the Shi’a community.

Key words: Rational choice; Public good; Religion; Exegesis


Keywords


Rational choice; Public good; Religion; Exegesis



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.css.1923669720110706.061

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.



Share us to:   


Reminder

  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
  • We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases: caooc@hotmail.com; css@cscanada.net; css@cscanada.org

 Articles published in Canadian Social Science are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).

 CANADIAN SOCIAL SCIENCE Editorial Office 

Address: 9375 Rue de Roissy Brossard, Québec, J4X 3A1, Canada 
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://www.cscanada.net Http://www.cscanada.org 
E-mailcss@cscanada.net, css@cscanada.org

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture