Extremism with Respect to Censuring Taqleed

 

by

 

Abd Al-Rahman Ibn Mualla Luwayhiq

 

 

Taken from Religious Extremism in the Lives of Contemporary Muslims, pp. 390-410

 

 

 

 

The scholars define taqleed as,

 

"Acting on the basis of another's statement (or opinion) without a proof." [1]

 

This is the well-known definition among the legal theorists and the one that their majority accepts. [2]

 

 

Al-Sheeraazi [3] defined it as,

 

"Accepting a statement without an evidence." [4]

 

Al-Aamidi defined it as,

 

"Its meaning is the acting according to another's statement without any binding authority [upon one to do so]." [5]

 

Excluded from the concept of taqleed is the following of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) since he is the legislator and taking his statements is taking something based on knowledge and certainty. [6]

 

Allah has ordered us to follow his commands and refrain from what he forbade:

 

"So take what the Messenger gives to you, and deny yourselves that which he prohibits for you" (al-Hashr 7).

 

Similarly, acting on the basis of the consensus is excluded, as it is not a kind of taqleed of the masses of the Nation. Instead, it is an agreement among the masses concerning what a specific text that is used as evidence indicates. Furthermore, proofs have been cited demonstrating the authority of that source. Thus following it is not a type of blameworthy taqleed.

 

Also excluded from the category of blameworthy taqleed is the layman [7] turning to the mufti (or scholar) for a religious verdict. The scholars are agreed that such is not blameworthy taqleed. After a very enlightening discussion censuring taqleed, ibn Abdul Barr stated,

 

"This [censuring] is directed to the non-laymen [that is, it is directed to the scholars and specialists]. The masses [non-scholars] must make taqleed of its scholars when any new occasion arises as it will not be clear to them wherein lie the proofs and, due to their lack of understanding, they will not be able to reach that knowledge. This is because knowledge is of different levels. One cannot reach its higher levels until one attains its lower levels. This is, in fact, the barrier between the masses and seeking the proof." [8]

 

He also said,

 

"The scholars do not differ on the point that the masses must follow (make taqleed of) their scholars. They are the ones meant by the verse, 'Ask the people of the reminder if you know not' [al-Nahl 43]... Similarly, the scholars do not differ on the point that the masses are not permitted to give religious verdicts.

 

That is due to, and Allah knows best, their ignorance of the meanings and understandings that allow one to say that something is permissible or forbidden and to speak about knowledge." [9]

 

Even those scholars who are very strict when it comes to matters of taqleed do not consider a layman asking a scholar a question blameworthy taqleed.

 

Ibn Hazm stated,

 

"We do not object to people asking the scholars for religious verdicts. What we object to is their taking the statement without any proof to support it, without [the scholar] referring it to any text of the Quran or Sunnah, because this will necessarily result in the following of mistakes. If during the time of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) there were some who gave incorrect religious verdicts, after his death, they are more in number and more widespread. Therefore, it is an absolute must that one be very cautious concerning getting rulings from any scholar who does not strengthen his ruling by basing it on the Quran, Sunnah or consensus." [10]

 

While explaining the behavior of the early scholars of Islam, al-Shaukaani stated,

 

"The one with less knowledge would ask the scholar about an issue that had come to him. He would give him a religious verdict with the texts that he knew of the Quran and Sunnah." [11]

 

This is the concept of taqleed among the scholars of this Nation from the ahl al-sunnah wa al-jamaah. Some people went to an extreme and considered the taking of the statement of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or the consensus of the scholars of this Nation to be taqleed.

 

Ibn Hazm wrote,

 

"Some people were mistaken as they called the taking of the statement of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or what the scholars of this Nation agreed upon taqleed. This is what the people involved in sophistry did. They want to distort and destroy knowledge. They want to falsify truths and cause confusion.

 

Nothing helps their cause more than distorting the meanings of terms and mixing them until what is truth is given a false name so that the people flee from it. The [ignorant] who [naively] have good opinions of those people will then fall into [their trap]." [12]

 

This is the kind of extremism that Shukri Mustafa's group fell into. Shukri stated,

 

"We can summarize the forms of taqleed taken in this Nation as proofs regarding the religion as the following: the opinions of the jurist, the opinions of the Companion, the practices of the people of Madinah (in opposition to Malik), the opinion of the majority and the consensus." [13]

 

Since there is a difference of opinion about [most of] these forms that he mentioned briefly, I shall concentrate my discussion on following the consensus which he claims is a form if taqleed. I do not know of anyone who made such a statement before him.

 

Shukri Mustafa considered following the consensus a type of taqleed and he denied its authority. He wrote,

 

"The authority is in what they [the consensus] used as a basis if that is made clear to us. If that is not made clear to us, it is not proper for humans to legislate a religion for us and then we follow them, they thereby becoming lords instead of Allah." [14]

 

He did not provide any evidence for what he said. He refutes the evidence of the ahl al-sunnah wa aljamaah concerning the authority of the consensus by only rational arguments and sophistry such as what was done by those before him who rejected the consensus. Concerning this matter, he did not stop at just commenting upon ijtihaad and taqleed but he widened the scope by speaking about consensus itself. Therefore, I shall discuss this topic in the light of three major topics:

 

First: The meaning of the consensus (al-ijmaa);

 

Second: The evidence for the authority of the consensus;

 

Third: Clarification that following the consensus is not a form of taqleed.

 

Here is the detailed explanation:

 

The Meaning of the Consensus (al-Ijmaa):

 

Al-Aamidi defines "consensus" as,

 

"The agreement of all the 'people who bind and unbind' [15] of a particular era of the Nation of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) concerning the ruling on a particular issue." [16].

 

The Evidence for the Authority of the Consensus:

 

The ahl al-sunnah wa al-jamaah see the consensus as an authority and consider it one of the sources of the Shareeah, as opposed to what the Shiah, the Khawaarij and al-Nadhaam [17] of the Mutalizah say. [18] They cite a number of evidences in its support, including:

 

(1) From the Quran:

 

(a) Allah says,

 

"If anyone contends with the Messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that of the believers, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell, what an evil refuge" (al-Nisaa 115).

 

This verse is one the most famous indicating the authority of the consensus.

 

This is the verse that the leading scholars, such as Umar ibn Abdul Azeez, Malik and others, clung to concerning this issue. [19] The line of reasoning from the verse is that Allah has made a threat concerning following a path other than that of the believers. If such behavior were not forbidden, why would Allah make such a threat. [20]

 

(b) Allah also says,

 

"Thus have We made of you an Ummah justly balanced, that you might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves" (al-Baqarah 143).

 

The reasoning here is that Allah has declared them to be just and has made them witnesses against mankind with respect to the acceptance of their statements. There is no meaning to consensus being an authority save the fact that the opinion concerning which there is a consensus is an authority over all the people. [21]

 

(c) Allah also says,

 

"You are the best of peoples raised for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong" (ali-Imraan 110).

 

There are other verses that the ahl al-sunnah wa al-jamaah cite as evidence for the authority of the consensus. However, they are of a more general nature. They include, for example,

 

"Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth, and dispense justice therewith" (al-Araaf 181). These verses are as al-Ghazaali stated,

 

"They are general in their meaning and not specific texts concerning the goal [of establishing the authority of the consensus]." [22]

 

The strongest, most direct evidence in the texts is found in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

 

(2) From the Sunnah:

 

(a) The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,

 

"Verily, Allah does not gather together this Nation-or he said the Nation of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)-upon a misguidance. Allah is with the congregation. Whoever separates from it, separates to the Hell-fire." [23]

 

(b) The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said,

 

"The one who separates a handspan from the community and then dies, dies not except a death of the days of Ignorance." [24]

 

(c) The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said,

 

"A group of my Nation shall continue to be established upon the command of Allah. They will not be harmed by those who abandon them or differ from them, until the command of Allah comes and they are victorious over the people." [25]

 

(d) The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,

 

"Whoever wants the comfort of Paradise, let him stick to the congregation. Whoever is made happy by his good deeds and saddened by his evil deeds is, in fact, a believer." [26]

 

In commenting upon this hadith, al-Shafi'ee noted,

 

"If that community is spread throughout the lands, it is not possible for one to physically be united with a people who are in separate lands. I have found people being physically together in societies made up of Muslims and disbelievers, pious and impious. Hence, there is no real meaning to a simple physical adherence [to the community by being physically close to them] as such is not possible and the coming together in a geographical sense alone does not produce anything. Therefore, adhering to the community can only mean adhering to what that community is following concerning what is permissible or forbidden, and obeying them in those matters. Whoever has the same views as that of the Muslim community is adhering to that community. Whoever differs from what the Muslim community is adhering to is differing from the community that he has been ordered to adhere to. Negligence and forgetfulness are only found in the sects. As for the jamaah, it is not possible that all of them would be negligent or forgetful of the meaning of the Quran, Sunnah or analogy, Allah willing." [27]

 

These hadith all continue to be known and accepted. From them, we can derive definitive knowledge that this Nation as a whole will be protected from falling into error. Although these reports are not individually mutawaatir, from such similar reports we find ourselves by necessity believing in [for example] the bravery of Ali and the generosity of Haatim [28] although none of the individual reports concerning these matters is mutawaatir, as it is possible that each one of them was a lie [but so many different reports make this inconceivable].

 

Furthermore, these hadith were well-known among the Companions, Followers and those who came after them. They adhered to these hadith in affirming the place of consensus until al-Nadhaam of the Mutazilah appeared.

 

Furthermore, it is normally impossible for the peoples of different eras to continually accept something that has no verifying evidence. [29]

 

Clarification that Following the Consensus is Not a Form of Taqleed:

 

Following the consensus is not some form of taqleed of the masses of the Nation, nor does it imply that one takes them as lords instead of Allah. This is true due to two reasons:

 

(1) Earlier we showed that taqleed means, "to act upon another's statement without any authority." However, the proof or authority has been established showing that the consensus is one of the sources of the Shareeah that is to be depended upon. In this way, it is similar to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). If Allah did not order us to follow the commands of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), following his Sunnah would have then been a type of taqleed of him and taking him as a lord other than Allah.

 

However, when the proof was established that one must follow Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), no one could call that following a form of blameworthy taqleed. Similar is the case with the consensus.

 

Ibn Hazm noted,

 

"In actuality, taqleed is the acceptance of a statement by someone other than the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) without any proof. This is what the Nation has agreed is termed taqleed. There is evidence to show that it is false and it is different from what has been proven to be sound. It is forbidden to call the truth with a name of falsehood or to term falsehood with a name of truth." [30]

 

(2) The consensus must be based on some verse or hadith from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

 

Ibn Taimiyyah stated,

 

"One never finds an agreed-upon point except that there must have been some clarification from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

 

However, that may be obscure to some people who, though, are aware of the consensus [on that issue] and use it as a proof" [31]

 

If this is known, it becomes clear that the consensus is not simply the statements or views of some men. Instead, it is a view that is based on evidence and texts of the Shareeah. Those who are aware of its basis are aware of it and those who are ignorant of it are ignorant of it.

 

Extremism with Respect to Censuring Those Who Make Taqleed

 

The ahl al-sunnah wa al-jamaah, and in particular those who censure taqleed among them, do not declare those who make taqleed disbelievers. This is because taqleed in itself is not kufr. Those who censure taqleed and who argue by the verses in which followers followed their leaders in kufr do not mean to imply that the act of taqleed itself is kufr. The final ruling is determined by what the follower is following the other person in.

 

Ibn Abdul Barr stated,

 

"The scholars quote these verses as evidence to negate taqleed. But they do not mean to declare it as kufr based on these verses as the similarity [between taqleed and what is mentioned in said verses] is not with respect to the belief of one or the faith of another. The similarity between the two is that the follower follows without any evidence for the follower, like when one blindly follows another person and commits kufr. Another person may blindly follow somebody else and [simply] commit a sin. Yet another person may blindly follow another in a worldly mistake and [simply] commit a mistake. All of these people are blamed for their act of taqleed without basing themselves on any evidence. And all of these acts of taqleed resemble one another although the sins of the persons involved differ [greatly]." [32]

 

Shukri Mustafa expanded the censuring of taqleed to the point of declaring those who make taqleed disbelievers. He said,

 

"What we are discussing now is the division of the people (Muslims according to their claims) into those who make taqleed and those who are mujtahideen. The one who makes taqleed among them (the Muslim according to their claim) is the one who blindly follows the mujtahid and takes from him fiqh issues. He accepts his rulings in fiqh issues in totality without asking him for any evidence." [33]

 

He also stated,

 

"We shall confirm, by Allah's permission, that the first kufr committed in this Nation was the kufr of taqleed or, in other words, the abandoning of the guidance (making ijtihaad concerning it) for taqleed." [34]

 

He seeks to prove that by general proofs, such as the verse,

 

"They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ, the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)" (al-Taubah 31).

 

The hadith that explain this verse, that were presented earlier in our discussion concerning those who declare the followers to be disbelievers, do not need to be reproduced here again as what was presented earlier should be sufficient.

 

Requiring Everyone to Make Ijtihaad

 

People's situations and abilities differ greatly. Some have the ability to study and learn. Some are relatively weak-minded and even if they studied their whole lives, they would not benefit.

 

Between these two extremes are many different people in different circumstances and with different mental capabilities. For that reason, Allah has commanded those who do not know to ask those who do know.

 

Allah has said,

 

"If a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them, that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil)" (al-Taubah 122).

 

This command came after stating the impossibility of all the believers going out,

 

"Nor should the Believers all go forth together" (al-Taubah 122).

 

The practice of the early scholars of this Nation, from the time of the Companions and afterwards, was in accord with this command.

 

"The one with lesser knowledge would ask the scholar on an issue that occurred and he would give him a verdict with texts that he knew from the Quran and Sunnah." [35]

 

For that reason, a group of the Companions became famous for giving many religious verdicts due to their prominent positions and deep knowledge in understanding the Quran and Sunnah. [36]

 

This is an agreed-upon matter. Ibn Abdul Barr stated,

 

"The scholars do not differ on the point that the masses must follow (make taqleed for) their scholars. They are the ones meant by the verse, 'Ask the people of the reminder if you know not' [al-NahI43]." [37]

 

Those scholars who were very strict regarding the matter of taqleed, such as ibn Abdul Barr, ibn Hazm, ibn al-Qayyim, al-Shaukaani and others, were speaking about what some of the learned of particular schools would do in replying to questions without relying on evidence. They were also speaking about when a layman would ask a scholar about the opinion of the school of fiqh without paying any attention to the evidences. After his discussion censuring taqleed, ibn Abdul Barr wrote,

 

"This [censuring] is directed to the non-laymen [that is, it is directed to the scholars and specialists]. The masses [non-scholars] must make taqleed of its scholars when any new occasion arises as it will not be clear to them wherein lie the proofs and, due to their lack of understanding, they will not be able to reach that knowledge. This is because knowledge is of different levels. One cannot reach its higher levels until one attains its lower levels. This is, in fact, the barrier between the masses and seeking the proof." [38]

 

Ibn Hazm also stated,

 

"We do not object to people asking the scholars for religious verdicts. What we object to Is their taking the statement without any proof to support it, without [the scholar] referring it to any text of the Quran or Sunnah, because this will necessarily result in the following of mistakes. If during the time of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) there were some who gave incorrect religious verdicts, after his death, they are more in number and more widespread. Therefore, it is an absolute must that one be very cautious concerning getting rulings from any scholar who does not strengthen his ruling by basing it on the Quran, Sunnah or consensus." [39]

 

Ibn al-Qayyim wrote,

 

"A scholar may err. This is inevitable as he is not protected from error. It is therefore not permissible to accept everything that he says and raise his statements to the status of the one who is protected from error. This is what every scholar on the face of the earth censures. They forbid it and they censure those who practice it. Indeed, this is the source of the afflictions and trials of those who practice taqleed." [40]

 

Al-Shaukaani stated,

 

"The one making taqleed...does not truly make taqleed unless he does not ask for any evidence. If he does ask for the evidence, he is not making taqleed." [41]

 

When they censured taqleed, they were not demanding that everyone make ijtihaad in understanding the texts and deriving rulings from them. They knew that the mujtahideen are a particular class of people from among the Nation. For that reason, they laid down the conditions for a mujtahid. [42]

 

If they believed that everyone was obliged to make ijtihaad, they would not have stated those conditions. The prohibition of taqleed does not necessarily imply the order to make ijtihaad. Not requiring everyone to make ijtihaad is based on many considerations, most notably:

 

(1) The natures of individuals are not equal. Some of them are receptive to knowledge and qualified to make ijtihaad. Some of them fall short on those counts.

 

(2) If we ordered everyone to make ijtihaad, the worldly affairs would collapse. The farmer would leave his farm and the craftsmen would leave his craft. Those workers would be busy working to attain the level of ijtihaad. This would result in destruction of worldly life and systems and also cause obvious harm and hardship.

 

(3) No matter how high a person reaches in matters of knowledge, it will be impossible, due to many reasons, for him to reach a level where he is able to make ijtihaad on every individual issue.

 

In sum, the issue of taqleed is between two fringes:

 

One fringe requires taqleed for the schools of fiqh [for everyone].

 

The other fringe requires study and ijtihaad [for everyone].

 

The truth, however, is between these two fringes.

 

In approving of this point, Ibn Taimiyyah wrote,

 

The extreme among the theologians and jurists say that everyone, even the layman, is required to study and make ijtihaad concerning the secondary issues. This is a weak opinion. This is because even if the seeking of that knowledge were required upon every individual, it would be obligatory only according to one's ability. And the ability to understand the perplexing evidences is something impossible or very difficult for the majority of the commoners. On the opposite end, there are the followers of the schools of fiqh who require everyone, scholars and laymen, after the Imams of the schools to make taqleed... The opinion of the majority of the Nation is that ijtihaad is permissible in general and taqleed is permissible in general. They do not obligate ijtihaad upon everyone and forbid taqleed. And they do not obligate taqleed upon everyone and forbid ijtihaad. Ijtihaad is permissible for the one who has the ability to make ijtihaad while taqleed is permissible for the one who is not able to make ijtihaad. However, is it permissible for the one who has the ability to make ijtihaad to make taqleed?

 

On this issue there is a difference of opinion. The correct view is that it is permissible for him whenever he is not able to make ijtihaad. (For example, it is permissible when) the (opposing) evidences are equal to each other, when he does not have the time to make ijtihaad or when the evidences concerning the issue are not manifest to him. In these cases, he is incapable and, therefore, when he is incapable, the obligation is dropped from him and he then moves to its substitute, which is tagleed. [43]

 

In contemporary times, Shukri Mustafa has gone to an extreme concerning the issue of taqleed. He was of the opinion that the members of the Muslim society are all to be declared disbelievers due to their taqleed and that it is a must that each one of them make ijtihaad. In describing the Muslim jamaah, he stated,

 

"It is one jamaah with one leader. Ir is based on the Book of Allah and the Sunnah. They declare disbelievers those who make taqleed. Every Muslim among them is a mujtahid. There is no room for sects, schools of fiqh or parties. Instead, they are all around its leader, clinging to the rope of Allah." [44]

 

While refuting the ahl al-sunnah, he stated,

 

"In refutation to their statement that Allah would not require of those ignorant people Islam [45],

 

We say:

 

The reality is that they were not ignorant except due to their leaving of Islam and being preoccupied with worldly matters. It was after they became ignorant that they were no longer knowledgeable and hence they left Islam completely and became preoccupied with this world. They blindly followed others (made, taqleed) in the matter of their religion and of their Lord until they became learned in their worldly matters and then they blindly followed others (in religious matters)." [46]

 

He also said,

 

"The problem is that those people hypothesize that the reality in which they are living is Islamic and it is upon that that they build their opinions and fantasies... One finds among those people that they claim to be Muslims people who can hardly understand a hadith and do not know anything about Islam except the name. They argue that such people could not be burdened with making ijtihaad to know the laws of Islam. However, our statement, that the principle is that we must use Islam to judge the reality we are living in, removes that problem. This would make it clear that those people do not have the slightest connection to Islam. From the beginning, they are not Muslims. Therefore, there is no need to try to understand why anyone without any intelligence would be made responsible by Allah to carry the weight of Islam." [47]

 

He cites general evidences to show that everyone has the ability to make ijtihaad. He wrote,

 

"Allah shows that mankind has the ability to ponder over Allah's signs.

 

'Here is a message for mankind: let them take warning therefrom, and let them know that He is (no other than) One God. Let men of understanding then take heed' [Ibraaheem 52].

 

Allah also says,

 

'Do they not consider the Quran (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy' [al-Nisaa 82].

 

Allah also says,

 

'Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Quran, or are their hearts locked up by them?' [Muhammad 24].

 

And Allah says,

 

'Do they not ponder over the Word (of Allah), or has anything (new) come to them that did not come to their fathers of old?' [al-Muminoon 68]." [48]

 

He also presents some rational arguments that may be summarized as follows:

 

 

(1) The Word of Allah is not in need of explanation and clarification.

 

Shukri Mustafa stated,

 

"Is Allah in need of a commentator without His permission or is He not in need of such? If they say He is not in need of such, then the provisions are enough to refute them. If they say that He is in need of such, they have associated a partner with Allah, the Great, for which He has given no authority." [49]

 

(2) We do not know of the good intentions of those who give religious verdicts. Therefore, according to Shukri Mustafa, we cannot take their religious verdicts. He stated,

 

"This is all if we accept the fact that they have good intentions. But we must leave that also. For can you, assuming that they are leading scholars, say with certainty that they have good intentions? If they say with certainty that they have good intentions, they are giving to themselves a right that belongs only to Allah, that is knowing what is in the hearts. If they answer that Allah alone knows about them, it is obligatory upon them to leave that source which may contain an evil intention." [50]

 

(3) The jurists do not carry any more knowledge than we do.

 

The jurist has an understanding that is particular to him and which we are not in need of. If the Word of Allah were in need of jurists to be understood, the jurist would then need someone who could understand his words. This vicious circle would then continue ad nauseum. Furthermore, the means of education today are easier than in any previous era. [51]

 

 

The Refutation of Their Arguments:

 

First, the generality of the verses they use to indicate that everyone has the ability to ponder over the signs of Allah is not relevant as evidence on this issue. They are stated concerning pondering over the signs of Allah; that is, contemplate them and understand them. They are a call to contemplate the texts of the Quran and to think about them. However, after that contemplation, people are at different levels according to what Allah has opened up to them and inspired them with. They are also different according to the amount of knowledge they have acquired that helps them understand the texts of the Quran. Hence, there is nothing in these verses that indicate that all people will have the ability to make ijtihaad in understanding the texts from the Lawgiver. To highlight this point, I shall present Imam al-Tabari's comments on some of the verses that Shukri Mustafa used as proofs.

 

(1) Allah says,

 

"Do they not ponder over the Quran (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy" (al-Nisaa 82).

 

Imam al-Tabari said,

 

"The meaning of Allah's words, 'Do they not ponder over the Quran,' is: Do not the schemers ponder over the things other than what you say to them, O Muhammad, as the Book of Allah? They would then know the proof of Allah against them concerning obeying you and following your command. What you are presenting them is a revelation from their Lord, perfectly harmonious in meaning, consistent in its rulings and each part supports the veracity of the other and bears witness to its truth. If it were from other than Allah, its rulings would not be consistent, its meanings would be contradictory and its different parts would make clear its unsoundness." [52]

 

(2) Allah says,

 

"Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Quran, or are their hearts locked up by them?" [Muhammad 24].

 

Al-Tabari stated,

 

"Do those hypocrites not ponder over the admonition that Allah gives them in these verses of the Quran revealed to His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? And do they not think about the proof made clear to them in its revelation, thereby knowing the mistake of what they are upon?" [53]

 

(3) Allah also says,

  

"Do they not ponder over the Word (of Allah), or has anything (new) come to them that did not come to their fathers of old?" [al-Muminoon 68].

 

Concerning this verse, al-Tabari wrote,

 

"Allah is saying: Don't those polytheists ponder over the revelation of Allah and His Word to know what lessons it contains and to learn the proofs of Allah that He establishes against them? Or has anything (new) come to them that did not come to their fathers of old? He says to them: Has something come that had not come before to their ascendants and therefore they are haughty and turn away." [54]

 

Second, he makes the argument,

 

"Is Allah's word in need of a commentator...?" In response, one can say, "Yes, Allah's words are in need of explanation and elucidation." This has occurred by Allah's will as He has made the Sunnah an explanation of the Quran. [Allah says,]

 

"We have sent down unto you (also) the dhikr (Reminder) that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought" (al-Nahl 44).

 

The role of the scholars is not simply to explain the wording of the text. They also study the texts that seem to be conflicting and they explain how they are not contradictory by reconciling the evidences or showing which is stronger. The fact that the Quran is in need of explanation, elucidation and clarification is something concerning which there is no difference of opinion among the scholars of this Nation.

 

Third, he also argued that we do not know of the good intentions of those who give religious verdicts. The basic ruling is that one should have good expectations of the scholar who is giving a religious verdict. Allah has not commanded us to look into their intentions as such is beyond what humans can sense. Instead, humans are to judge according to what is apparent to them.

 

Umar ibn al-Khattaab stated,

 

"People were [sometimes] judged by the revealing of a divine inspiration during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). But now that is no longer. Now we judge you by the deeds you publicly practice. We will trust and favor the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for Allah will judge him for that. But we will not trust or believe the one who presents to us an evil deed, even if he claims that his private deeds are good." [55]

 

What is sought is that a Muslim ask about knowledge and religion from those whom he trusts.

 

These are the aspects that are apparent to him and the remaining affairs are left to Allah.

 

Fourth, Shukri argues that the jurists do not bear more knowledge than what we bear. In response, the fact that humans are at different levels of knowledge is something accepted by the Shareeah, human reasoning and experience.

 

Allah says in the Quran,

 

"Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?" (al-Zumar 9).

 

Allah also teaches His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to say,

 

"Say, 'O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge'" (Taha 114),

 

Allah says to the one who has no knowledge,

 

"Ask the people of the dhikr (reminder) if you do not know" (al-Nahl 43).

 

Allah also distinguishes between those well-grounded in knowledge and others. Those well-grounded in knowledge are more complete in their beliefs.

 

Allah says,

 

"But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the believers, believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you, (especially) those who establish regular prayer and practice regular charity and believe in Allah and in the Last Day. To them shall We soon give a great reward" (al-Nisaa 162).

 

Human reasoning also knows that knowledge is not something that is taken all at once and a person becomes a scholar. Instead, knowledge is something that is accumulated. A person spends his whole life accumulating and amassing knowledge and understanding until he becomes a scholar. In this way, people are at very different levels, some being ignorant, some being learners and others being scholars.

 

Perception also witnesses this fact. You might find a person, ask him a question and he will show you his ignorance. On the other hand, you may ask another and he responds with knowledge.

 

Only the most obstinate person would deny that there are such differences in the people. If they mean by denying the differences that the people are all the same in understanding and comprehending, this argument is also rejected. There are tools for understanding, like having the knowledge of the language that one is speaking, the knowledge and practice of deriving laws and so forth. This is in addition to the fact that understanding is truly a divine grace. Therefore, based on all of that, people are also at different levels of understanding. In fact, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed that Allah would give ibn Abbaas the understanding of the religion. He said,

 

"O Allah, teach him the wisdom."

 

Another wording states,

 

"O Allah, teach him the Book." [56]

 

Another narration states,

 

"O Allah, give him understanding of the religion and teach him the interpretation [of the Quran]." [57]

 

The fiqh mentioned here is the understanding. If all of the people were of the same ability in understanding, why did the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) single ibn Abbaas out for this supplication?

 

  

 

 

1) Al-Shaukaani, Irshaad al-Fahool, p. 265; Musalim al-Thaboot bi-Sharhih Fawaatih al-Rahamoot, vol. 2, p. 400.

2) Cf., Musalim al-Thaboot bi-Sharhih Fawaatih al-Rahamoot, vol. 2, p. 400.

3) He was Abu Ishaaq Ibraaheem ibn Ali ibn Yoosuf al-Fairoozabaadi alSheeraazi. He was a scholar and debater. He was born in Fairoozabaad and then moved to Sheeraaz where he first studied. He completed his studies in al-Basrah and Baghdad wherein his genius became apparent. He was known for being very strong in arguments and debates. He died in Baghdad in 476 A.H. He produced many famous works in fiqh, legal theory and dialectics. Cf., Siyar Alaam al-Nubalaa, vol. 18, p. 452; al-Alaam, vol. I, p. 51.

4) Al-Luma, p. 70.

5) Ihkaam al-Ahkaam, vol. 4, p. 220. For other definitions of taqleed see ibn Abdul Barr, Jaami Bayaan ai-Jim wa Fadhlihi, vol. 2, p. 117; Imam al-Haramain, al-Waraqaat fi al-Usaal, p. 248; ibn Hamdaan, Sifah al-Fatwa wa al-Mustafti, p. 51; al-Subki, Jami al-Jawaami, vol. 2, p. 292.

6) Cf., al-Shaukaani, Irshaad al-Fahaal, p. 266.

7) [The terms layman and laymen may, technically speaking, not fit into Islamic terminology. However, they are used here to refer to the commoner, non-scholar or non-specialist.-JZ]

8) Jaami Bayaan al-Iim wa Fadhlihi, vol. 2, p. 114.

9) Ibid., vol. 2, p. 114.

10) Ibn Hazm, al-Ihkaamfi Usool al-Ahkaam, vol. 6, p. 1076.

11) Irshaad al-Fahool, p. 248. Also see al-Shaukaani, al-Qaul al-Mufeed, p. 21.

12) Ibn Hazm, al-Ihkaam fi Usool al-Ahkaam, vol. 6, p. 1089.

13) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 14.

14) Cf., al-Hujjiyaat, pp. 40-41; Muhammad Suroor, al-Hukum bi-Ghair ma Anzalallaah, p. 61.

15) [This is the expression al-Aamidi used in this definition. It is an expression, as discussed earlier that refers to the leaders in society.

However, in this context it refers to the scholars and mujtahideen. Allah knows best.-JZ]

16) Al-Ihkaam, edited by Shaikh Abdul Razaaq al-Afeefi, vol. I, p. 196.

17) He was Abu Ishaaq Ibraaheem ibn Sayaar ibn Haani al-Basri, one of the Imams of the Mutazilah. He was accused of being a zandiqah (hypocritical apostate) and some scholars declared him a disbeliever. He died in 231 A.H. Cf., Siyar Alaam al-Nubalaa, vol. 10, p. 541; al-Alaam, vol. 1, p. 43.

18) Cf., al-Aamidi, al-Ihkaam fi Usool al-Ahkaam, vol. I, p. 200.

19) Cf., al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi, Al-Faqeeh wa al-Mutafaqih, vol. I, p. 173; ibn Taimiyyah, al-Fataawa, vol. 19, pp. 178-179.

20) Cf., al-Aamidi, al-Ihkaamfi Usool al-Ahkaam, vol. I, p. 200.

21) Cr., al-Aamidi, al-Ihkaam fi Usool al-Ahkaam, vol. 1, p. 212.

22) Al-Ghazaali, al-Mustasfa, vol. 1, p. 175.

23) [Discussed earlier. Recorded by al-Tirmidhi, ibn Abi Aasim, al-Laalakai in Sharh Usool al-Itiqaad and al-Haakim. AI-Tabaraani records it via two chains.

Al-Albaani said about the narration in al-Tabaarani that its chain is sahih.

See al-Albaani, Dhilaal al-Jannah fi Takhreej al-Sunnah, vol. 1, p. 40.] 2

24) Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Daarimi and Ahmad.

25) Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

26) [Discussed earlier. Recorded by al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, ibn Abi Aasim and by al-Haakim who said it is sahih and al-Dhahabi agreed with him. Al-Albaani declared it sahih in his discussion of the hadith of ibn Abi Aasim.]

27) Al-Shafi'ee, al-Risaalah, pp. 474-476.

28) He was Abu Adi Haatim ibn Abdullah ibn Saad al-Taa'ee, a knight, poet and generous person from the Days of Ignorance. His generosity was so well known it became proverbial. He died in the land of Tai eight years after the birth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Cf., al-Alaam, vol. 2, p. 150.

29) Cf., al-Ghazaali, al-Mustasfa, vol. 1, p. 176; al-Aamidi, al-Ihkaam, vol. 1, pp.219-223.

30) Ihkaam al-Ahkaam, vol. 6, p. 1089.

31) Ibn Taimiyyah, al-Fataawa, vol. 19, p, 195.

32) Jaami Bayaan al-Ilm wa Fadhlihi, vol. 2, p. 110.

33) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 9.

34) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 10.

35) Al-Shaukaani, Irshaad al-Fahool, p. 248.

36) Cf., ibn al-Qayyim, llaarn al-Muwaqieen, vol. 1, pp. 12-14.

37) Jaarni Bayaan al-Ilrn, vol. 2, p. 114.

38) Jaarni Bayaan al-Ilrn wa Fadhlihi, vol. 2, p. 114.

39) Ibn Hazm, al-Ihkaamfi Usool al-Ahkaam, vol. 6, p. 1076.

40) Ilaam al-Muwaqieen, vol. 2, p. 192.

41) Al-Shaukaani, al-Qaul al-Mufeed, p. 21. Some scholars require the questioner to ask for the evidence when seeking a religious verdict. There is some doubt as to the validity of this view requiring the questionerto do such. This doubt is due to the following points: (1) When a layman asks any scholar a question, he is seeking to know Allah and His Messenger's judgment even though the questioner may not specifically declare that that is what he is seeking. (2) The commoner or layman does not benefit from the mention of the evidence as he does not have the ability to encompass what it really means, especially in cases where there are seemingly contradictory evidences. For that reason, Imam al-Shaatibi concludes that, "The rulings of the mujtahideen are for the laymen like the Shareeah evidences are for the mujtahideen." He supports that view by saying, "The existence or non-existence of evidence is the same for a person making taqleed, as they do not benefit at all from them. Studying the evidences and deriving laws from them is not their affair. In fact, such is not permissible for them at all. Allah has said, 'Ask the people of the reminder if you know not.''' (3) It also must be pointed out that the views of those scholars [referred to above as being strict or harsh on this question] were actually in response to the actions of those extreme blind followers of the jurists. It is for that reason that there is some aspect of a similar [extreme] response in their stances. Allah knows best. Cf., al-Shaatibi, al-Muwaafaqaat, vol. 4, p. 261; Muhammad Suroor, al-Hukum bi-Chair ma Anzalallaah, pp. 43-44.

42) For the conditions to be a mujtahid, see al-Raazi, al-Mahsool fi 11m al-Usool, part 3, vol. 2, p. 30; what al-Dahlwai quoted in al-Ijtihaad wa al-Taqleed from al-Baghawi, p. 7; al-Shaukaani, Irshaad al-Fahool, pp. 249-252.

43) Ibn Taimiyyah, al-Fataawa, vol. 20, pp. 203-204.

44) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 14.

45) (Apparently, what he is saying here is that by virtue of those Muslims not being mujtahideen, they are ignorant people who have left Islam. Allah knows best.-JZ)

46) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 11.

47) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 12.

48) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 11.

49) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 11.

50) Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 15.

51) Cf., Al-Hujjiyaat, p. 15.

52) Al-Tabari, jaami al-Bayaan, vol. 5, p. 179.

53) Al-Tabari, jaami al-Bayaan, vol. 26, p. 57.

54) Al-Tabari, jaami al-Bayaan, vol. 18, p. 41.

55) Recorded by al-Bukhari

56) Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

57) Recorded by Ahmad. [The first portion, "0 Allah, give him understanding of the religion," is also recorded by al-Bukhari.-JZ]

 

 

 

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