Question and answer details
|Respected Sir, I hope you are doing fine by the blessings of mighty God. I have a chain of questions about ijtihad. What is the origin of ijtihad? What was & is its importance? What is its importance and stand in Islamic philosophy? Why aren’t we served and guided by our scholars and mujtahideen about God's commandments, which are seriously attacked nowadays. Thank you very much for your time and explanation.|
Salam Dear Muhammad,
Your questions reflect deep insight and true search for knowledge, along with good understanding of the teachings of Islam.
"Ijtihad therefore is an exercise of one's reasoning to arrive at a logical conclusion on a legal issue done by jurists to deduce a conclusion as to the effectiveness of a legal percept in Islam." (Sari`ah; The Islamic Law, by Abdur Rahman I. Doi)
In fact, allowing ijtihad is one of the most important characteristics of Islam since it shows the flexibility of the Islamic Shari`ah and its suitability to all times and places.
When we say that the door to ijtihad is not closed we do not open it for everyone. Shari`ah is not open for tampering or every passer by. It is only scholars who are well-versed with Shari`ah that can practice ijtihad. The one who practices ijtihad is called mujtahid. There are certain conditions for a mujtahid, which should include the following:
Where To Practice Ijtihad?
As stated above, ijtihad is not open for anyone; rather, it is only open for the erudite scholars. Also, in the scope of ijtihad, not all topics and issues are subject to ijtihad, for the rule goes: "No ijtihad in the existence of a legal text."
Therefore, there is no ijtihad to define the shares of inheritance since they are well explained in the Quran and there is no ijtihad to define the punishment for theft, adultery, high-way robbery (hirabah), since all these are explained in exactness in the Quran.
Also, no one can practice ijtihad to say that hijab is not obligatory, since it has been declared mandatory in the Quran by the Lawgiver.
One more point, which needs to be highlighted is that a mujtahid is always rewarded so long as he practices ijtihad purely for Allah's sake.
"If a ruler practices ijtihad and reaches a right decision, he will get double reward (i.e. one for his ijtihad and the other for his right decision.) And if he is to reach a wrong decision, he gets one reward only." (Reported in Sunnan Abu Dawud.)
Also, a mujtahid who practices ijtihad while being qualified and able to do it, then he is not subject to blame. When the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him commanded his Companions to pray `Asr in the dwellings of Banu Qurayzah, some of them understood the hadith as a command to go there quickly and others got the exact wording of the hadith as a direct command.
While the former prayed `Asr at their place and further proceeded to the dwellings of Banu Qurayzah, the latter waited till they reached the dwellings and prayed there. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did not reproach any of them since each group did their ijtihad.
Thank you very much and please keep in touch!