INTRODUCTION The concept of taqlid in Islamic law has long received a bad press. Juxtaposed with the creative vigor of ijtihad--direct and independent engagement with the sacred sources--taqlid, or legal conformism, has been dismissed as "servile imitation of other jurisconsults" (1) or "slavish obedience to one or other of the four recognized legal schools." (2) By approaching the concept from the perspective of legal studies, Norman Calder. Mohammad Fadel, Wael Hallaq, and Sherman Jackson have provided important correctives to this disparaging view. (3) Drawing primarily on analyses of post-formative legal texts, they have demonstrated that, instead of representing the mere empty shell of ijtihad, taqlid in fact embodies a more developed form of law, since it can accommodate precedent and communal legal reasoning in contrast to the unrealistically solipsistic process of ijtihad. The consequent development of a body of binding precedent was the crucial ingredient that enabled the establishment and survival of the schools of Islamic law (madhahib).