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Ijtihad and Imitation PDF Print Email
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 02 July 2015 03:20

Ijtihad and Imitation


Al-Ijtihad is extraction of judgments for which there is no explicit text that can only have one meaning. The mujtahid is the one who is qualified to do that by having memorized the verses related to judgments, and the hadiths related to judgments, and the knowledge of their chains of narration, and of the situations of the narrators of the chain, and the abrogating and the abrogated, the general and the specific, the absolute and the restricted. Likewise he will have mastered the Arabic language in a way that he memorized what the expression of those texts refer to, i.e., he knows what those texts are in reference to according to the language in which the Qur’an was revealed. He would also know what the mujtahids have agreed upon, because if he does not know that, we do not feel safe that he will not breach the consensus, i.e., the consensus of those who were before him. Above that is a great condition in ijtihad, and that is fiqhun-nafs, i.e., great strength of understanding and realization. Trustworthiness is conditional, which is being clear of major sins and being clear of persisting in doing small sins in a way that they overcome his good deeds in number. As for the imitator, he is the one who has not reached this level.

The evidence that the Muslims are of these two levels is that the Prophet ﷺ said:

نضَّرَ الله امرأً سَمِعَ مقالَتِي فَوَعَاهَا فأدَّاهَا كما سمِعَها، فرُبَّ مُبَلِّغٍ لا فِقْهَ عندَهُ

[which means] “May Allah Enlighten the face of the person who heard my saying, understood it, and conveyed it as he heard it, for how many conveyors there are who have no fiqh.” Narrated by At-Tirmidhiyy and Ibn Hibban. The evidence in the hadith is his saying, “…how many conveyors there are who have no fiqh.” In a narration,

ورُبَّ مُبَلَّغ أوْعَى من سَامِعٍ

[which means] “How many a person received the conveyance and they understood better than the one who heard?” In this hadith is evidence that among the Followers are those who were more knowledgeable than the Companions themselves. This hadith makes us understand that among those who heard the hadith from the Messenger ﷺ are those whose share is only to narrate what he heard to someone else, and his understanding would be less than the understanding of the one to whom he conveys, [whereas] the one to whom he conveys is able, from the strength of his genius, to extract rulings and cases from that hadith. This is called istimbat [derivation; extraction]. The one who heard does not have this strong genius; he only understands the meaning that is close to the expression. From here it is known that some of the Companions would have less understanding than the one who heard the hadith of the Messenger of Allah from them.

[It came] in another expression for this hadith,

فرُبَّ حاملِ فِقْهٍ إلى من هوَ أفقَهُ منهُ

[which means] “How many a carrier of fiqh there is who carries it to he who has more fiqh than him?” These two narrations are in At-Tirmidhiyy and Ibn Hibban.

This mujtahid is the subject of the Prophet’s saying ﷺ,

إذَا اجتَهدَ الحاكمُ فأصابَ فلَهُ أجْرانِ وإذا اجتهدَ فأخطأَ فله أجرٌ

[which means] “If the ruler makes ijtihad and he is correct, then he has two rewards; and if he makes ijtihad and he is mistaken, then he has one reward,” narrated by Al-Bukhariyy. The Messenger of Allah only specified the ruler in this hadith because he is more in need of ijtihad than others. In the past, there have been mujtahids from the salaf who, along with being mujtahids, were also rulers, like the six khalifahs: Abu Bakr, ^Umar Ibnu-l-Khattab, ^Uthman, ^Aliyy, Al-Hasan Ibn ^Aliyy, and Judge Shurayh.

The scholars of hadith who authored works of hadith terminology counted the muftis among the Companions as less than ten. It was also said that they were about six, and some scholars said about two hundred of them reached the level of ijtihad, and this saying is the most correct. So if the issue is like this in reference to the Companions, then how would it be valid for every Muslim who is able to read the Qur’an and to read in some of the books to say, “They were men and we are men. So we do not have to follow them”? It is confirmed that most of the Salaf were not mujtahids; rather, they were imitators of the mujtahids among them.

It was mentioned in Sahih Bukhariyy that a man was an employee of another man and he fornicated with his employer’s wife. So his father asked, and it was said to him, “It is obligatory on your son to pay one hundred shah[1] and a slave woman.” Then he asked the people of knowledge. They said, “What is obligatory on your son is one hundred lashes and exile for one year.” So the father came to the Messenger with the husband of the woman and said, “O Messenger of Allah, this son of mine was an employee for this person, and then he fornicated with his wife. People said to me, ‘Your son is to be stoned.’ So I gave one hundred ghanam and a slave woman on my son’s behalf. Then I asked the people of knowledge and they said, ‘The only thing that is on your son is one hundred lashes and exile for a year.’” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “By God, I will surely judge between you by the Book of Allah. As for the slave woman and the ghanam, they should be returned, and on your son is one hundred lashes and a year’s exile.”

So this man, despite that he was a Companion, asked some people who were also among the Companions, and they made a mistake; then he asked scholars among them. Then the Messenger of Allah gave him the religious judgment, which is what complied with what those scholars said. So if the Messenger made us understand that some of those who heard the hadith from him have no fiqh, this is that they do not have the ability to extract judgments from his hadith; and their only share is to narrate from him what they heard, despite that they understand the eloquent classical Arabic language. So what about those rabble-rousers, those people who dare to say, “Those are men and we are men”? They mean by “they are men” the mujtahids, like the four Imams.

In the same meaning is what was narrated by Abu Dawud about the story of the man who had his head split, then had a wet dream on a cold night, so he sought the religious judgment from the people with him.  They said to him, “Take a ghusl,” so he took a ghusl and died.  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was informed about this.  He said, “They killed him, may Allah Kill them. Why did they not ask if they did not know? The cure for ignorance is the question.”  This means the cure for ignorance is asking the people of knowledge. He also said, “It would have been enough for him to make tayammum and squeeze a rag over his wound, then wipe over it and wash the rest of his body.” This hadith was narrated by Abu Dawud and others.

So, had ijtihad been valid from the Muslims without restriction, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would not have dispraised those who gave that man the religious judgment without being among the people of fatwa.  Furthermore, the function of the mujtahid that is specific to him is comparative analogy, that is, for him to consider what has no narrated text according to what does have a narrated text because of a resemblance between them.  So be warned and be warned again from those who encourage their followers to make ijtihad, despite that they and their followers are far from this rank. These people cause destruction, and they call their followers to make destruction in the matters of the Religion. What is similar to them are some people who got used to distributing the tafsir of an ayah or a hadith in their sessions, despite that they did not previously have reliable transmission from the mouths of the scholars. So those claimers, they deviated from the scholars of Usul, because the scholars of Usul said that comparative analogy is the function of the mujtahid, and they also oppose the scholars of hadith.



[1] Shah and ghanam are both words that refer to sheep and goats as one category.