Lit. “Proof.” This has many meanings. The most basic meaning is that of proof or evidence – basically that which establishes a proposition as being intellectually sound. However, the meaning is more subtle than this, especially in Islamic jurisprudence. Many times in Islamic law the question of the ultimate truth of whether a ruling is correct or incorrect is secondary because we do not have access to an infallible who will give us the answer. We have compelling arguments constructed upon reliable (and sometimes not entirely reliable) reports from the Prophet. What this means is that jurists are more concerned with whether a position taken can be substantiated and taken as a defence when they are questioned before Allah on Judgement Day as to why they acted the way they did (and perhaps issued a fatwa allowing others to act according to the ruling.) Here hujjah does not mean something which establishes the absolute truth of a proposition, but rather it means that a proposition has enough evidence to be intellectually compelling enough that one either must act according to it, or is at least is justified in doing so.

“The Hujjah” also refers to a technical term in Shi’ite theology – namely the infallible Imam who acts as God’s proof upon creation.

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