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['Aalim Network QR] Ijtihad and Taqlid

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\
Salaamun Alaykum

Please find below  questions on Ijtihad and taqlid to which the reply was kindly
provided by Ma'alim Hamid Mavani.


With Duas and Salaams

Maqbul Rahim
Acting Moderator for ABDG-A


Q1.  Why do different Marajeh have different rulings on some matters and
similar rulings on other matters.


Differences of opinion amongst the mujtahids on various issues
is the logical outcome of the fact that they are fallible human beings
whose research is tentative and subject to error.  This applies to
any other discipline or field of research.  Therefore, we should not be
alarmed if the mujtahids disagree on certain issues or revise their
opinions in light of new information, etc.  The added complicating
factor when dealing with the discipline of Islam is that it consists of
historical data that cannot be repeated in a laboratory or subject
to empirical tests.  A researcher has to carefully analyze the textual
data and critically assess the valdity and authenticity of the reports.
Some works have been destroyed and are no longer extant.  Some works
were commissioned by the government to promote their own agenda, and
unscrupolous scholars received handsome salary for this exercise. Some
works were forged and invented by different groups for their private
agenda.  Thus, the task of a mujtahid in sifting through this data and
assessing the data is a daunting one.  Even, if all the mujtahids agreed
on which reports are genuine and valid, there would still be
disagreement on its interpretation.  There is hardly a verse in the
Qur'an on which we do not have differing interpretations - philosophical
theological, mystical, legal, from secular perspective, humanist, etc.
The tentativeness of the research of the mujtahids is clearly reflected
in their customary closing statement after each fatwa: "Allah is most

Q2.  Why is there a difference of opinion on some matters being haram or
not between the mujtahideen.  What is the consequence for muqallid for
such variation bearing in mind that such variation creates two
categories of people doing the same act - sinners and non sinners.

ANSWER 2: The first part of the question is answered above.  The
muqallids would not be held accountable for that which exceeds their
capacity.  That is to say, they were following the expert advise of
researchers in whom they had trust and confidence.

Q3.  Are there any category of matters that cannot be altered in any
way by Ijtehad - i.e. immutable laws and commands by virtue of being
firmly established as basic principles of Islam eg salaat, sawm, hajj
khums and zakat.

ANSWER 3: Yes, fundamental precepts that have an explicit  sanction
in the Qur'an or tawatur hadith-reports would not be subject to change
under normal circumstances.  However, in an exigency according to the
late Ayat. Khumayni even these fundamental ordinances can be altered
and subsumed under the need to preserve public welfare.  It is also
important to take note that there are also immutable norms and values
in Islam - equity, justice, freedom, tolerance, egalitarianism, gender-
equality, etc.

Q4.  Are Haram, wajib, mutahab, makruh and mubah relative to the
circumstances and what role does the aql of a muqallid have in
deciding whether to do an act or not.

ANSWER 4: Yes, they are relative to the circumstances.  Take the
example of one dipping his/her head in water while fasting in Ramadan.
This would be haram under normal cirumstances, however, if someone
is sinking then it is wajib for the person fasting to rescue the person
from drowning, although this act would break his fast.

Islam, like any other discipline is a specialized area and discipline.
Thus, it requires proper training and familiarity with the sources
and languages.  If a muqallid feels that he is competent to derive his
own rulings in particular area of Islam, then he can use his/her
findings and follow them (mutajazzi).  However, for the majority of
the muqallids, they have no other option but to seek recourse to the
expert advise of the mujtahids and act upon their findings.

wa bi-l-laahi-t-tawfiq,

Hamid Mavani

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