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Al-Ijtihad

Every branch of science or of humanistic knowledge, such as medicine, physics, mathematics, botany, grammar, etc. is in need of its particular specialists and experts who study it, discover its laws, and teach the people how to make use of, and apply it. So, the scientific laws which we learn in schools have been discovered by the expert scholars and presented to the people.

Such is the science of Fiqh, the science of Islamic Jaws and precepts. It is also in need of the scholars who have specialized in studying and understanding it, in order to discover and derive its Jaws and precepts, from their original sources: the Holy Qur'an and the Pure Sunnah, in the same way as the scientists of medicine and botany discover the laws of their branches, by studying the human body, and the plants and their relations with the other things.

The Qur’an and the Sunnah are the original sources from which the scholars derive the Islamic precepts, Jaws and concepts. Such scholars, or the Ulama who have specialized in studying the Islamic Fiqh, and who have discovered and inferred the Jaws and the precepts from the Holy Qur'an and the Pure Sunnah, are called the Fuqaha [plural of Faqih] or the Mujtahids.

The process of discovering and inferring the Islamic laws and precepts from the Qur'an and the Sunnah is called Ijtihad. Therefore, Ijtihad is: Applying scientific methods for discovering and inferring the Islamic Jaws and precepts from their primary sources. Consequently, a Mujtahid or a Faqih is the scholar who is capable of discovering and inferring the Islamic laws and precepts from the Book and the Prophetic Sunnah.

For a scholar to reach the stage of Ijtihad [i.e. being able to infer the Islamic laws and precepts from the Book and the Sunnah] it is necessary for him to study the Arabic language, and comprehend it thoroughly, enable him to understand the meaning! of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and know them and their interpretation, so as to be able to infer the precepts from the verses of the Qur'an, and tell the true traditions from the false ones which had been forged and fabricated by deceiving narrators, so that he may act according to the truthful, and discard the untruthful ones.

For this purpose the Mujtahids will have to study the lives of those who quoted and narrated the pure traditions, in order to know the trustworthy from the dishonest ones. The liars who tried to divert Islam, and to fabricate false traditions, are numerous. There are so many traditions and narrations quoted by some narrators, but they are no more than a pack of lies, detected by the scholars and exposed to us so that we may not be deceived by them.

The question, however, requires a comprehensive knowledge of Ilmu Usulil-Fiqh (the science which studies the general jurisprudential principles for deducing the religious precepts), in order to infer the Islamic religious precepts, since the science of the principles of Fiqh are the general rules which enable the Fiqh to deduce the religious precepts.

The Necessity of Ijtihad

Human society is an ever-developing one. Man's activities and relations are ever-increasing and spreading. Things which did not exist, can exist in diverse forms at certain times. Such as, banks, insurance companies, radio receiving sets, TV, and thousands of other things. So, we need to know the Islamic precepts and laws so as to know how to organize our acts, and distinguish between the Halal and the Haram. Had it not been for the presence of the Mujtahids in our society, who could then have inferred the Islamic precepts and laws from the Qur'an and the Sunnah?

Therefore, the presence of the Mujtahid jurisprudents is inevitable in order to look into every case to see whether it is Halal or Haram, according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Take, for example, the case of a fasting person who needs medicine, in the form of an intramuscular injection. Now, who can tell us whether this medical injection will nullify his fasting or not?

Especially since this medicine did not exist in the days of the Prophet (s). As such, we do not directly know its relevant precept. The only person able, nowadays, to infer the correct precept, is the Faqih, because he is an expert of the Islamic Shari’ah. The Faqih can tell us that this medicine does not nullify the Sawm, by informing us that the fasting person is allowed to use this medicine through the muscle.

At-Taqlid

Every Muslim has to know the precepts of the Islamic Shari’ah, and the necessary laws which he needs when he becomes a Mukallaf, such as the Salat, the Hajj, the Zakat, trading, marriage, divorce, etc. in order to apply them when required. But it is not possible for every one of us to study the Shari’ah as a specialist, so as to become a Faqih, knowing all the Islamic laws and precepts.

Therefore, it is Wajib on every non-specialized Muslim to refer to a Faqih whenever he wants to know and apply the precepts as he is told. This procedure of referring to a Faqih, to take the precept and laws from him and apply them is called "Taqlid".

So, Taqlid means, depending on, and following, the Fatwa [religious verdict] of a Faqih. It is obvious that Taqlid is a must. We know that a sick man refers to a physician, because he is specialized in treating the sick. The one who wants to build a house refers to an architect because he is well-versed in the art of architecture.

Thus, we commonly depend on the specialists in all the fields of life. For this reason, we depend on the Faqih and refer to him in the field of the Islamic precepts, because he is specialized in the Islamic jurisprudence and knows it well.

The Attributes of Marji’ut Taqlid

The conditions which are required in the Marji of Taqlid [the Mujtahid referred to for Taqlid] to whom the Muslims may refer for Fatwa, are as follows;

1. Maturity of age.

2. Sanity.

3. Masculinity.

4. Legitimate birth.

5. Having faith, righteousness and fearing Allah.

6. Ijtihad.

7. The most knowledgeable Faqih among the living Faqihs.

8. To be alive1

Discussion

Q l. Define: Ijtihad, the Mujtahid or the Faqih, and Taqlid.

Q2. Explain briefly: "Ijtihad is necessary for the Islamic society."

Q3. Complete the following sentence: "A Faqih infers the Islamic precepts from the two fundamental sources. They are.............. and ..................

  • 1. Some of the Islamic sects and groups allow the Muqalid to start his Taqlid with a deceased Faqih.