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Old Monday, July 25, 2011
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Ijtihad (Interpretation)


• Definition Of Ijtihad
• Use Of Ijtihad
• Conditions Possible For Ijtihad
• Specialists Of Ijtihad
• Steps To Develop A fresh approach To Ijtihad
• Necessity Of Ijtihad In Life


The true origins of Sharia are in fact Quran and Sunnah. But the position of Ijtihad (Interpretation) is implicit in the origins of Sharia which guides us within limits set by the Quran and the Sunnah.

Definition Of Ijtihad:

The root meaning of Ijtihad (Derived from jahada) is to strive, to make an effort. Ijtihad means to strive intellectually to comprehend problems facing the Islamic world and to find out their solution in keeping with basic principles and values of Quran. Ijtihad has been called by many scholars, including Allama Iqbal as “the dynamic spirit of Islam.”

Use Of Ijtihad:

All great Imams and founders of different schools of Islamic law practised Ijtihad in finding out the solutions of various problems they tackled with in their own times.

Technically, Ijtihad was first used by Muaz bin Jabal, when he was appointed as a governor of Yemen by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam. When asked how he would govern when he did not find clear ruling in the Quran or the Sunnah, he said “Ana ajtahidu” i.e. “I’ll strive” (to understand the problem myself and find a way out). The holy Prophet approved his reasoning.

Ijtihad was a very much a living process in early Islam; its gates re shut, many scholars maintain, around the times at the sack of Baghdad in 1258 by Mongol hordes. Ironically, it was a half century after that when Ibn Taymiyyah, defining his own Hanbali school of Islamic law, issued a fatwa on Jihad. Thus, the gates of Ijtihad were closed and that of aggressive jihad flung open.

Conditions Possible For Ijtihad:

This is very difficult job to cope with and at the same time this is also of very important nature. A suitable knowledge and common sense for drawing conclusion is necessary for Ijtihad. So generally great emphasis is laid upon being a man of letters and sublime aesthetic sense. It I a wrong impression that every man can interpret Sharia in its true sense because a man should feel its full responsibility for all the time. Because the man who gives a decision of some daily life problem not only affects the life of others but also peoples life after death.

Specialists Of Ijtihad:

There are three specialists of Ijtihad.

i) Only that man is capable of Ijtihad who has complete hold on Quran and Sunnah.

ii) He should be able to apprehend the pith and marrow of the issue and also to reach the deepest core of the problem.

iii) He must be of very good character and conduct and in whom people can repose their confidence easily.

Steps To Develop A fresh approach To Ijtihad:

Here are few basic steps in developing a fresh approach and throwing open gates to Ijtihad.

i) Firstly, at least a few Ulema and Muslims intellectuals (and there are many who have been trained in the traditional Islamic literature of Tafseer, Hadith and jurisprudence and who feel need for change) must show courage and come forward to develop a fresh approach, defying powerful vested interests manning religious establishment as it were.

ii) Secondly, we must transcend all existing schools of Islamic Law and develop a unified Law applicable to all the Muslims. This will also give greater meaning to the otherwise hollow slogans of Islamic unity. It does not mean that we reject all provisions of schools of law but that we select from all those that which is best in them and keeping in view with the Quranic principles and values.

iii) Thirdly, a new Ijma (consensus) must be developed on issues that are peculiar to our age and time. If the Ulema could do in the first three centuries of Islam, why not us today? The past Ulemas’ Ijma was limited to their own schools; today is a globalised world so a much wider consensus across all the schools of thought will have to be developed. Modern means of information and communication technology have made it much easier.

Necessity Of Ijtihad In Life:

Ijtihad basically is inevitable for human being till they are not involved in life routine. And a man is involved in life routine he faces many times many problems in performing his duties and tries to get some problem solving method and in a Muslim society a Muslim is always prone to have some sort of better solutions of problems of life routine and he obviously falls with Ijtihad. And it is impossible to live without Ijtihad in modern world of miseries.
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