Rules For Navigating Through Learning And Practice: Two Great Imams Speak On Ijtihad, Taqlid And Madhabs


Hafidh Ibn Taymiyah (r) said: ” Some of the scholars of theology (ilm al-kalam) and jurisprudence (fiqh) have taken an excessive possession. They say that all Muslims must engage in “ijtihad” and “authentication of evidence” in secondary matters. This position is characterized by weakness for even if it is true and prescribed for those possessed of knowledge and merit it ought be confined to merit. Still, the capacity to derive rulings from particular evidences is no easy task for the average person. A similar position is held by those who oblige all Muslims to the opposite that is to imitation of previous scholars (taqlid) this include the meritorious scholar and the average person.

The majority of scholars are of the opinion that:

Both “ijtihad” and “taqlid” are permissible (mubah). So, “ijtihad” is not a universal individual obligation (fard al-ayn)to be performed by each Muslim and “taqlid” is not prohibited (haram). On the other hand, “ijtihad” is permissible (mubah) for the qualified and “taqlid” is recommended (mustahab) for those who are incapable of performing “ijtihad.”

“It is recommendable for a person to follow the opinion of a specific person if he is incapable of learning rulings for practice from another source but this is not incumbent upon him”

Hafidh Abdul al-Barr (r) said:

” the average person should imitate his scholars when they are in need of a ruling. This is because they cannot comprehend  where the evidence is nor can they produce knowledge from ignorance, knowledge has degrees, the highest cannot be obtained unless the lower is realized.”

” The scholars agree that the average person has to imitate scholars.”

” Scholars also agree that it is not permissible (ja’iz) for the average person to issue legal responsa (fatwa)

Adapted By: Abul-Hussein

Source: Reflections On The Tract Of Education

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6 Comments

  1. JB says:

    This needs to be read by quite a few people. I've had many recent discussions on “i'm going to look at the Qur'an and ahadith and decide for myself. I don't need some 'sheikh' telling me what's right or wrong”.

    This is a problem with individuals, but it also makes me think- is it also a problem in the way scholars relay their information? There seems to be much less faith in the shuyookh than there used to be.

  2. abushaheed says:

    MA SHA ALLAH. ONE THING THAT I HAVE LEARNED AND WITNESSED IS THAT YOU CAN FIND A FATWA FOR ALMOST ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO. UNTIL I MET A VERY PIOUS SCHOLAR WHO TAUGHT ME THAT ALL SCHOLARS ARE NOT PIOUS. PIETY AND AND FEAR OF ALLAH GO HAND IN HAND WHEN GIVING RULINGS. FIND A SCHOLAR WHO PRACTICES WHAT HE OR SHE PREACHES, AND WHO LISTENS TO YOU AND ALSO KNOWS THE CULTURE OF THE PEOPLE IN THE REGION WHERE YOU LIVE. TODAY YOU HAVE TO BE AWARE ESPECIALLY IN MUSLIM COUNTRIES WHERE MOST SCHOLARS FEAR THE GOVERMENT, AND HAVE SCRIPTED KHUTBAS ,AND DONT HAVE THE SPIRIT OF UMAR(RA) WHO ASKED A SAHABA, IF I DO NOT DO WHAT ALLAH COMMANDS ME TO DO(THIS IS NOT VERBATUM)WHAT WOULD YOU DO, AND THE SAHABI REPLIED, I WOULD STRAIGHTEN YOU OUT WITH MY SWORD AMEER OF THE BELIEVERS, AND UMAR(RA) SAID, I AM GLAD WE STILL HAVE SOME PEOPLE WITH GUTS IN THIS UMMAH. WHERE ARE THE SCHOLARS WITH GUTS? ALHAMDULILAH THAT I FOLLOW ONE, MUHAMMAD MOCTAR EL SHINQITI

  3. My question is, what constitutes a scholar? I mean, even the salafi of today to a large extent do taqlid of Sh. Bin Baz and Sh. Ibn Uthamin, would this fall under the category of taqlid as well?

    additionally, even the scholars all do taqlid dont they? if they didnt do it for fiqh, didnt they certainly do it for authenticy of the hadith when they relied on imam bukhari and imam muslim?

  4. IbnHassan says:

    how do you define average because many people pick and chose based on evidence and say “this is the stronger opinion” what are qualiifications neede din order to be bale to distinguish between stronger ans weak opinions between the madhahibs.

  5. Abul-Hussein says:

    Asalaamu Alaikum and Barik Allah Fi Kum Ibn Hassan,

    In defining an average person it can be said that this is representative of the bulk of Muslims who are not versed in the Sciences of Islam at an advanced or rudimentary level and those who have not attained the rank of working with Islamic sciences as a skilled craftsman.

    The practice of enthusiasts wherein they declare the ability to determine one opinion to be stronger than another when confronted with a plethora of opinions or of those who claim to resolve contradiction in evidences when they can not reconcile between then is widespread today. In fact, what this means for many it to clarify the strength of one hadith over another with no regard for other matters.

    Evidence is understood from a number of angles, here are a few:

    1.) The path of transmission
    2.) The linguistic indications
    3.) Its relation to other evidence
    4.) Its relationship to general principles

    We can begin to reconcile fiqhi differences by categorizing position into the class of majority of minority. Then we can go a step further and look at the strength of evidence from one of the angles above. In no way does declaring one hadith to be more sound complete the process as there are other matters to be considered.

    So, identifying the stronger evidence from the weaker is a noble rank of scholarly practice and a degree of independent research (ijithad) and because this is so the qualifications for ijtihad should be there and experience with scholarship should be there.

    For further reading look to Imran Nyazee’s book “Islamic Jurisprudence”

    Allah Al’am
    Wa Billahi at Tawfeeq
    Abul-Hussein
    NastagfirUllah Wa Natoobu Ilayhi

  6. Abul-Hussein says:

    AS

    Cool, I hope your well and chillin.

    There are three positions in relation to the Shar’iah that we have from the angle of knowledge.

    1.) Mujtahid (independent jurist)
    2.) Mutabee (enlightened follower)
    3.) Muqallad (trusting follower)

    The position of the Salafiyyah Movement is not considered taqlid (trustingly following with no knowledge of evidence) but ittiba (following with knowledge of the evidence) because they are following evidence and not just the opinion of a Shaikh this is taqlid i.e., to follow with trust in the opinion of a Shaikh without knowing the evidence for the opinion.

    Further reading: Islamic Jurisprudence by Imran Nyazee.

    If something was not clear send another post and please direct it to Imam Suhaib Webb given that he is studying with Muftis in Egypt and is more qualified than I in this matter.

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