Fiqh & Sunnah
Typography

Contents[Hide]

Definition of Ijtihad

Linguistically ijtihad means: to expend efforts in order to reach some difficult matter. Technically it means: expending efforts to arrive at a Shari'ah ruling. And the Mujtahid is the one who expends efforts for this purpose.

Conditions for Ijtihad

Being a mujtahid has conditions, from them:

  1. That he knows the Shari'ah proofs which he needs in his ijtihad - such as the ayat (verses) and ahadith pertaining to rulings.
  2. That he knows what relates to the authenticity or weakness of a hadith, such as having knowledge of the isnad (chain of narration) and it's narrators, and other than this.
  3. That he knows an-nasikh (the abrogating) and al-mansukh (the abrogated), and the places where there is ijma' (consensus) - such that he does not give a ruling according to something that has been abrogated, nor give a ruling that opposes the (authentically related) ijma'.
  4. That he knows from the proofs that which causes the rulings to vary, such as takhsis (particularisation), or taqyid (restriction), or it's like. So he does not give a judgement which is contrary to this.
  5. That he knows the Arabic language and usul ul-fiqh (fundamentals and principles of jurisprudence), and what relates to the meanings and indications of particular wordings - such as al-'am (the general), al-khass (the particular), al-mutlaq (the absolute and unrestricted), al-muqayyid (the restricted), al-mujmal (the unclarified), and al-mubayyin (the clarified), and it's like - in order that he gives rulings in accordance with what this demands.
  6. That he has the ability to extract rulings from the evidences.

And ijtihad may be split up, such that it may be undertaken in one particular branch of knowledge, or in one particular issue.

What is Essential for the Mujtahid

It is essential that the Mujtahid strives in expending his efforts to arrive at knowledge of the truth, and to give rulings in accordance to what is apparent to him. If he is correct, then he has two rewards: one for his ijtihad, and the other for arriving at the truth - since arriving at the truth means that it is manifested and acted upon. If, however, he is mistaken, then he has a single reward, and his error is forgiven for him - as he sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"When a judge judges and strives and is correct, then he has two rewards. If he judges and strives and errs, then he has a single reward."
Related by Al-Bukhari (13/318) and Muslim (no. 1716)

If the ruling is not clear to him, then he must withhold - and in such a case, taqlid is permissible for him, due to necessity.

Taqlid - its Definition

Linguistically, taqlid means: Placing something around the neck, which encircles the neck. Technically it means: Following he whose sayings is not a hujjah (proof).

Excluded from our saying, "Following he whose saying is not a proof." is: following the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, following the ijma' and also following the saying of the Sahabi - for those who consider the saying of a single Sahabi to be a proof. So following any of these is not called taqlid, since there is a proof for doing so. However this type of following is sometimes referred to as taqlid in a very metaphorical and loose sense.

The Place of Taqlid

Taqlid is done in two cases:

  1. When the muqallid is an 'ami (a common person) who does not have the ability to acquire knowledge of the Shari'ah ruling by himself. So taqlid is obligatory upon him, due to the saying of Allah - the Most High, "Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know." [Al-Qur'an 16:43] So he does taqlid of one whom he considers to be a person of knowledge and piety. If there are two such people who are equal in his view, then he chooses any one of them.
  2. The mujtahid when he encounters a new situation, for which an immediate solution is required, but it is not possible for him to research into this matter. So in this case he is permitted to perform taqlid.

Some stipulate as a condition for the permissibility of taqlid, that the matter is not from the fundamentals of the Din - those matters which must be held as 'aqidah - since matters of 'aqidah require certainty, whereas taqlid only amounts to dhann (knowledge which is not certain).

However the correct saying in this matter is that this is not a condition, due to the generality of his - the Most High's - saying, "Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know." And this verse is in the context of affirming the Messengership - which is from the fundamentals of the Din. And also because the common person cannot acquire knowledge of the Shari'ah rulings with it's proofs by himself. So if he is unable to arrive at the truth by himself, then nothing remains for him except taqlid, due to the saying of Allah - the Most High, "Fear Allah as much as you can." [Al-Qur'an 64:16]

Types of Taqlid

Taqlid is of two types: general and specific.

[1] The general type: that a person sticks to a particular madhhab (school of thought), accepting it's concessions and non-concessions, in all matters of the Din.

The scholars have differed about such a state. So some amongst the late-comers have reported that this is obligatory upon him, due to his inability to perform ijtihad. Others report it as being forbidden for him, due to its being a case of necessitating unrestricted following of other than the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) said:

"The saying that it is obligatory, causes obedience to other than the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam in every matter of command and prohibition, and this is in opposition to the ijma'. And the allowance of it contains what it contains."

He, rahimahullah, also said:

"He who sticks to a particular madhhab, and then acts in opposition to it - without making taqlid of another scholar who has given him a ruling, nor does he use an evidence as a proof which necessitates acting in opposition to his madhhab, nor does he have an acceptable Shari'ah excuse which allows him to do what he has done - then such a person is a follower of his desires, doing what is haram - without a Shari'ah excuse - and this is evil and sinful.

"However, if there becomes clear to him, something which necessitates preference to one saying to another - either due to detailed proofs if he knows and understands them, or because he holds one of two people to be more knowledgeable about this matter and having more piety with regards to what he says - and so he leaves the saying of that one for the saying of the other one, then this is permissible, rather, it is obligatory. And there is a text from Imam Ahmad about this."

[2] The particular type of taqlid is that he accepts a saying about a particular matter. This is permissible if such a person is unable to arrive at knowledge of the by ijtihad - whether he is unable to in reality, or he is able, but with great difficulty.

Fatwa of a Muqallid

Allah - the Most High - said:

"Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know."

And the Ahlu'dh-Dhikr are the Ahlu'l-'Ilm (the people of knowledge), whereas the muqallid is not a person of knowledge who is followed - rather he himself is a follower of someone else.

Ibn 'Abdul Barr (d. 463H) and others have said:

"The people are united in ijma' that the muqallid is not counted as being from the Ahlu'l-'Ilm, and that knowledge is the realisation of guidance along with it's proof."
Jami' Bayanu'l-'Ilm wa Fadlihi (2/119)

Ibn Al-Qayyim (d. 756H) said:

"And it is as Abu 'Umar (Ibn 'Abdul-Barr) said: Indeed, the people do not differ about the fact that knowledge is the realisation attained from proof, but without proof, it is only taqlid."
I'lamu'l-Muwaqqi'in (1/7)

Ibn Al-Qayyim then quotes:

"There are three sayings about the permissibility of giving fatwa (legal verdict) based upon taqlid:

  1. It is not permissible to give fatwa based upon taqlid, because it is not knowledge; since issuing a fatwa without knowledge is forbidden. This is the saying of most of the Hanbali scholars and the majority of the Shafi'iyyah.
  2. That it is permissible with regards to himself, but it is not permissible to give a fatwa to others based upon taqlid.
  3. That it is permissible when there is a need for it, and there is no mujtahid scholar. And this is the most correct of the sayings and is what is acted upon."

About the Author

He is Abu 'Abdullah, Muhammad ibn Salih ibn Muhammad ibn 'Uthaymin al-Wuhaybi at-Tamimi. He was born in the town of 'Unayzah (Saudi Arabia) on the 27th of the blessed month of Ramadhan in the year 1347H. He memorised the Qur'an during his early life and then continued seeking knowledge under two students of Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahman as-Sa'di. He then continued to study under Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahman ibn Sa'di who is considered to be his first Shaykh, since he remained with him for some time - where he studied Tawhid, Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, Usul ul-Fiqh, Al-Fara'id (Laws of Inheritance), Nahw (Grammar) and Sarf (Morphology). Ibn Al-'Uthaymin also studied under the eminent and noble Scholar, Shaykh 'Abdul-'Aziz ibn Baz, who is considered to be his second teacher. Under him, he began studying Sahih al-Bukhari, some of the works of Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, and some of the books of Fiqh. Ibn Al-'Uthaymin says:

"I was influenced by Shaykh 'Abdul-'Aziz ibn Baz - hafidhahullah with regard to the great attention he gave to hadith, and I was also influenced by his manners and the way in which he makes himself available to, and puts himself at the service of the people."

One of the foremost Scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah in this present age, the Shaykh is - by Allah's grace - very active in calling the people to Allah. Indeed, he has greatly exerted himself with this regard. The Shaykh - hafidhahullah has written around forty different works, some larger books and some treatises. This particular discussion on ijtihad and taqlid has been taken from his book: Al-Usul min 'Ilmi'l-Usul (pp. 97- 104).

From Al-Ibaanah Magazine, Issue No. 3, Dhul-Qa'dah 1416H / April 1996.

Contents[Hide]

Definition of Ijtihad

Linguistically ijtihad means: to expend efforts in order to reach some difficult matter. Technically it means: expending efforts to arrive at a Shari'ah ruling. And the Mujtahid is the one who expends efforts for this purpose.

Conditions for Ijtihad

Being a mujtahid has conditions, from them:

  1. That he knows the Shari'ah proofs which he needs in his ijtihad - such as the ayat (verses) and ahadith pertaining to rulings.
  2. That he knows what relates to the authenticity or weakness of a hadith, such as having knowledge of the isnad (chain of narration) and it's narrators, and other than this.
  3. That he knows an-nasikh (the abrogating) and al-mansukh (the abrogated), and the places where there is ijma' (consensus) - such that he does not give a ruling according to something that has been abrogated, nor give a ruling that opposes the (authentically related) ijma'.
  4. That he knows from the proofs that which causes the rulings to vary, such as takhsis (particularisation), or taqyid (restriction), or it's like. So he does not give a judgement which is contrary to this.
  5. That he knows the Arabic language and usul ul-fiqh (fundamentals and principles of jurisprudence), and what relates to the meanings and indications of particular wordings - such as al-'am (the general), al-khass (the particular), al-mutlaq (the absolute and unrestricted), al-muqayyid (the restricted), al-mujmal (the unclarified), and al-mubayyin (the clarified), and it's like - in order that he gives rulings in accordance with what this demands.
  6. That he has the ability to extract rulings from the evidences.

And ijtihad may be split up, such that it may be undertaken in one particular branch of knowledge, or in one particular issue.

What is Essential for the Mujtahid

It is essential that the Mujtahid strives in expending his efforts to arrive at knowledge of the truth, and to give rulings in accordance to what is apparent to him. If he is correct, then he has two rewards: one for his ijtihad, and the other for arriving at the truth - since arriving at the truth means that it is manifested and acted upon. If, however, he is mistaken, then he has a single reward, and his error is forgiven for him - as he sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"When a judge judges and strives and is correct, then he has two rewards. If he judges and strives and errs, then he has a single reward."
Related by Al-Bukhari (13/318) and Muslim (no. 1716)

If the ruling is not clear to him, then he must withhold - and in such a case, taqlid is permissible for him, due to necessity.

Taqlid - its Definition

Linguistically, taqlid means: Placing something around the neck, which encircles the neck. Technically it means: Following he whose sayings is not a hujjah (proof).

Excluded from our saying, "Following he whose saying is not a proof." is: following the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, following the ijma' and also following the saying of the Sahabi - for those who consider the saying of a single Sahabi to be a proof. So following any of these is not called taqlid, since there is a proof for doing so. However this type of following is sometimes referred to as taqlid in a very metaphorical and loose sense.

The Place of Taqlid

Taqlid is done in two cases:

  1. When the muqallid is an 'ami (a common person) who does not have the ability to acquire knowledge of the Shari'ah ruling by himself. So taqlid is obligatory upon him, due to the saying of Allah - the Most High, "Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know." [Al-Qur'an 16:43] So he does taqlid of one whom he considers to be a person of knowledge and piety. If there are two such people who are equal in his view, then he chooses any one of them.
  2. The mujtahid when he encounters a new situation, for which an immediate solution is required, but it is not possible for him to research into this matter. So in this case he is permitted to perform taqlid.

Some stipulate as a condition for the permissibility of taqlid, that the matter is not from the fundamentals of the Din - those matters which must be held as 'aqidah - since matters of 'aqidah require certainty, whereas taqlid only amounts to dhann (knowledge which is not certain).

However the correct saying in this matter is that this is not a condition, due to the generality of his - the Most High's - saying, "Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know." And this verse is in the context of affirming the Messengership - which is from the fundamentals of the Din. And also because the common person cannot acquire knowledge of the Shari'ah rulings with it's proofs by himself. So if he is unable to arrive at the truth by himself, then nothing remains for him except taqlid, due to the saying of Allah - the Most High, "Fear Allah as much as you can." [Al-Qur'an 64:16]

Types of Taqlid

Taqlid is of two types: general and specific.

[1] The general type: that a person sticks to a particular madhhab (school of thought), accepting it's concessions and non-concessions, in all matters of the Din.

The scholars have differed about such a state. So some amongst the late-comers have reported that this is obligatory upon him, due to his inability to perform ijtihad. Others report it as being forbidden for him, due to its being a case of necessitating unrestricted following of other than the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) said:

"The saying that it is obligatory, causes obedience to other than the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam in every matter of command and prohibition, and this is in opposition to the ijma'. And the allowance of it contains what it contains."

He, rahimahullah, also said:

"He who sticks to a particular madhhab, and then acts in opposition to it - without making taqlid of another scholar who has given him a ruling, nor does he use an evidence as a proof which necessitates acting in opposition to his madhhab, nor does he have an acceptable Shari'ah excuse which allows him to do what he has done - then such a person is a follower of his desires, doing what is haram - without a Shari'ah excuse - and this is evil and sinful.

"However, if there becomes clear to him, something which necessitates preference to one saying to another - either due to detailed proofs if he knows and understands them, or because he holds one of two people to be more knowledgeable about this matter and having more piety with regards to what he says - and so he leaves the saying of that one for the saying of the other one, then this is permissible, rather, it is obligatory. And there is a text from Imam Ahmad about this."

[2] The particular type of taqlid is that he accepts a saying about a particular matter. This is permissible if such a person is unable to arrive at knowledge of the by ijtihad - whether he is unable to in reality, or he is able, but with great difficulty.

Fatwa of a Muqallid

Allah - the Most High - said:

"Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know."

And the Ahlu'dh-Dhikr are the Ahlu'l-'Ilm (the people of knowledge), whereas the muqallid is not a person of knowledge who is followed - rather he himself is a follower of someone else.

Ibn 'Abdul Barr (d. 463H) and others have said:

"The people are united in ijma' that the muqallid is not counted as being from the Ahlu'l-'Ilm, and that knowledge is the realisation of guidance along with it's proof."
Jami' Bayanu'l-'Ilm wa Fadlihi (2/119)

Ibn Al-Qayyim (d. 756H) said:

"And it is as Abu 'Umar (Ibn 'Abdul-Barr) said: Indeed, the people do not differ about the fact that knowledge is the realisation attained from proof, but without proof, it is only taqlid."
I'lamu'l-Muwaqqi'in (1/7)

Ibn Al-Qayyim then quotes:

"There are three sayings about the permissibility of giving fatwa (legal verdict) based upon taqlid:

  1. It is not permissible to give fatwa based upon taqlid, because it is not knowledge; since issuing a fatwa without knowledge is forbidden. This is the saying of most of the Hanbali scholars and the majority of the Shafi'iyyah.
  2. That it is permissible with regards to himself, but it is not permissible to give a fatwa to others based upon taqlid.
  3. That it is permissible when there is a need for it, and there is no mujtahid scholar. And this is the most correct of the sayings and is what is acted upon."

About the Author

He is Abu 'Abdullah, Muhammad ibn Salih ibn Muhammad ibn 'Uthaymin al-Wuhaybi at-Tamimi. He was born in the town of 'Unayzah (Saudi Arabia) on the 27th of the blessed month of Ramadhan in the year 1347H. He memorised the Qur'an during his early life and then continued seeking knowledge under two students of Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahman as-Sa'di. He then continued to study under Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahman ibn Sa'di who is considered to be his first Shaykh, since he remained with him for some time - where he studied Tawhid, Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, Usul ul-Fiqh, Al-Fara'id (Laws of Inheritance), Nahw (Grammar) and Sarf (Morphology). Ibn Al-'Uthaymin also studied under the eminent and noble Scholar, Shaykh 'Abdul-'Aziz ibn Baz, who is considered to be his second teacher. Under him, he began studying Sahih al-Bukhari, some of the works of Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, and some of the books of Fiqh. Ibn Al-'Uthaymin says:

"I was influenced by Shaykh 'Abdul-'Aziz ibn Baz - hafidhahullah with regard to the great attention he gave to hadith, and I was also influenced by his manners and the way in which he makes himself available to, and puts himself at the service of the people."

One of the foremost Scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah in this present age, the Shaykh is - by Allah's grace - very active in calling the people to Allah. Indeed, he has greatly exerted himself with this regard. The Shaykh - hafidhahullah has written around forty different works, some larger books and some treatises. This particular discussion on ijtihad and taqlid has been taken from his book: Al-Usul min 'Ilmi'l-Usul (pp. 97- 104).

From Al-Ibaanah Magazine, Issue No. 3, Dhul-Qa'dah 1416H / April 1996.

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Be Mindful O Mankind!

O Allah, you see our hearts full of idolatry, pride, hypocrisy, showing-off, reputation, doubt and uncertainty in your din. O Turner of hearts, make our hearts firm in Your din and make our din Straight Islam!
- Al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110H), may Allah have mercy upon him